A man arrested for allegedly firing a gun recklessly during a road-rage incident in Times Square on Wednesday is the aspiring rapper Elijah Quamina. The 20-year-old allegedly fired off four shots after an argument with a motorcyclist on Seventh Avenue near West 41st Street in Manhattan, police said. No one was seriously injured in the incident. Quamina, who performs under the name Eli Fross was charged with attempted murder, attempted assault, and criminal possession of a loaded weapon on Thursday, the New York Police Department told the New York Post.
Quamina appeared in Manhattan Supreme Court on Friday to plead not guilty, reports the Post. The judge ordered Quamina to be held on $100,000 bail or $200,000 bond. The rapper recently signed a record contract with RCA Records.
The rapper, who lives in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, fired a weapon after an argument with the motorcyclist, police said. "While out on bail with gun charges, this defendant fired a gun, shooting several rounds of ammunition at a complete stranger in Times Square, after he was involved in a traffic collision … which was captured on video surveillance," a prosecutor said during the hearing.
Quamina claimed he was acting in self-defense and returning fire, reports the New York Daily News. However, prosecutors said there is surveillance camera footage showing only Quamina opening fire. The incident allegedly started when the rapper's white Mercedes knocked the motorcyclist, 32, into the Seventh Avenue bus lane, police said. The motorcyclist's friend confronted Quamina and other men standing near the Mercedes. Quamina then took out a weapon and began firing. The victim said Quamina shot straight at him, Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Grace Lunden said. While other men got into the Mercedes and drove away, Quamina ran from the scene on foot. Police linked the Mercedes to the rapper and arrested him on Thursday.
At the time of the shooting, Quamina was out on bail for illegal gun possession. He was arrested on May 29 in Brooklyn after police found him carrying a loaded handgun with a scratched-off serial number, according to the criminal complaint.
Wednesday's shooting was the third recent incident of gunfire in Times Square. In June, a Marine from upstate New York was hit in the back by a stray bullet in the middle of the day. In May, a 4-year-old Brooklyn girl and two women were hit by gunfire during another incident in the daylight. The alleged shooters were arrested in both incidents.
"This has got to stop," Times Square Alliance President Tom Harris told the Daily News on Wednesday when responding to the violence. "We cannot wait for a new mayor. The de Blasio administration needs to stop making excuses and develop effective strategies and take immediate action." New York Mayor Bill de Blasio's spokesman called Harris' comments "not productive," adding, "Everyone wants to fight back against gun violence and stop these shootings." The mayor's spokesman said there are more NYPD officers in the area in response to the shootings.