AP Photo/David Kohl
Looks like we might have a clue why T.I. went on a gun-shopping spree that got him in so much doo-doo.
Flanked by some serious security, the self-proclaimed King of the South took the stand today as a witness for the prosecution in the murder trial of an Ohio man accused of killing a member of T.I.'s entourage—and the rapper told a packed courtroom that he believed he was the intended target.
T.I., whose real name is Clifford Harris, spent 40 minutes testifying against Hosea Thomas. The 34-year-old defendant faces a litany of charges, including murder and felonious assault, for a May 2006 shooting following a postconcert bash in Cincinnati.
According to prosecutors, the Paper Trail rapper and his crew retired to Roselawn's Club Ritz after a gig in the area, when someone tried to sneak in to the VIP section.
Thomas apparently got bonked in the head by a bottle during the ensuing melee. As T.I. and his entourage fled the scene, Thomas gave chase, allegedly firing at the rapper's convoy on Interstate 75.
"All of those rounds were fired for me in my opinion," the entertainer told jurors, per the Cincinnati Enquirer. "Before I know it, shots rang out. At that time, we're calling everybody's name out to see if everybody was all right."
While T.I. was unscathed, his childhood friend and assistant Philant Johnson was hit in the head and instantly killed.
"He was lifeless," the Atlanta-based hip-hopster recounted. "I saw blood running down his face. His shirt was wet. He had an entry wound in the temple, left temple."
T.I., whose singles "Live Your Life" and "Whatever You Like" rank No. 1 and No. 2 on Billboard's Hot 100, also acknowledged his own criminal past as a two-time felon stemming from convictions for possessing crack cocaine and illegal firearms.
Speaking of the latter, the rapper is due to begin serving a one-year prison term on federal weapons charges in March.