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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A bodyguard was charged Tuesday with illegally providing a firearm to the rapper who was performing when gunfire broke out at an Arkansas nightclub this month, and federal officials say one of the guard's guns matched a shell casing found at the scene.
No one has been charged in the July 1 shooting at Little Rock's Power Ultra Lounge, which left 28 people injured. City officials say gang violence may have played a role and Gov. Asa Hutchinson has announced the creation of a task force to address an increasing amount of violence in Arkansas' capital city.
A Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agent accused Kentrell Gwynn of providing a firearm to Ricky Hampton, a Memphis, Tennessee, rapper and convicted felon who performs as Finese2Tymes. Agent Warren Newman also alleged that Gwynn provided armed security to a convicted felon and conspiracy.
Hampton and Gwynn were arrested in Alabama less than 24 hours after the shooting.
A statement from the U.S. attorney's office said the two were seen on surveillance video at a Memphis pawnshop picking out a Glock 23 hours after the shooting. Gwynn had purchased a Century Arms AK-style pistol at the pawnshop in May, and investigators say multiple Facebook posts show Hampton with such a gun afterward.
According to prosecutors, Gwynn had those guns and a Springfield XD pistol with him when arrested. Federal officials say Gwynn's Springfield pistol matched a shell casing found in the Little Rock club, but they still must be examined.
In Newman's affidavit, filed ahead of Gwynn's Tuesday appearance before a federal magistrate judge in Little Rock, Gwynn acknowledged being armed at the Power Ultra Lounge but said he did not shoot at anyone, did not know anyone who fired a shot and did not know whether Hampton had a gun that night.
Hampton appeared in federal court Tuesday on charges unrelated to the shooting. He's accused of being a felon in possession of a weapon after a separate incident in eastern Arkansas. Prosecutors say he shot at a woman believing she wasn't moving her car fast enough when he was ready to leave a nightclub in Forrest City about a week before the Little Rock shooting.
"She saw Hampton fire the AK-style pistol at her as she was driving away, shattering the glass in her car and injuring her neck," Newman wrote.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Jerome Kearney appointed a public defender for Hampton even though the rapper claimed to make nearly half a million dollars a year. The public defender, Nicole Lybrand, told the judge the $40,000 a month that Hampton cited was "a projection of what he would make" with a successful career.
Hampton and Gwynn remained jailed. Lybrand said she would work with state officials in an attempt to have Hampton released pending trial, or at least held in Little Rock rather than in Forrest City, 90 miles (150 kilometers) to the east.
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