04/21/2004 at 01:00 AM EDT
The gun possession and bribery trial of rapper Sean "Puffy" Combs got off to a dramatic start Monday, with a prosecutor alleging that Combs was seen firing one shot toward the ceiling of a crowded New York nightclub during a dispute, according to reports. Prosecutor Matthew Bogdanos told the Manhattan State Supreme Court jury that Combs, 31, began arguing with a man inside the Times Square nightspot Club New York on Dec. 27, 1999. The argument escalated, said Bogdanos, and co-defendant and rap protege Jamal "Shyne" Barrow drew a semi-automatic handgun and opened fire at the man, but instead shot and wounded three bystanders. Combs also fired a gun, the prosecutor told the jury, which will decide the fate of the rap mogul, of Barrow and of Combs's bodyguard, Anthony "Wolf" Jones, on various charges stemming from the shootings and a subsequent car chase by police through the streets of Manhattan. Three people suffered wounds from the shots fired by Barrow, prosecutors said. (Each of the victims is separately suing the three defendants for $100 million.) Combs is charged with offering his driver, Wardel Fenderson, $50,000 in cash and a ring to say that he owned the loaded gun police found as Combs and his girlfriend Jennifer Lopez drove away from the scene of the crime. Combs, who faces 15 years in prison if convicted of illegal gun possession, has repeatedly denied the charges.