'Then I see Jay fall:' Friend of Jam Master Jay recalls night of fatal shooting inside Queens studio

Darla Miles Image
Wednesday, January 31, 2024
Close friend of Jam Master Jay describes the night of fatal shooting
Darla Miles is in Downtown Brooklyn with the latest.

BROOKLYN, New York (WABC) -- For over a decade, Uriel "Tony" Rincon told authorities he didn't recognize the gunman who he saw kill Run-DMC's Jam Master Jay in the rap star's recording studio.

But all of that changed Wednesday inside a Brooklyn courtroom, where he identified the shooter by name.

"I omitted the truth," he confessed in court, before adding, "I was confused and scared. I just saw a bunch of people that I know with something I'd never seen."

Rincon was seated next to the legendary DJ, real name Jason Mizell, in his Queens studio on the night he was tragically gunned down in 2002.

In federal court Wednesday, Rincon described the trauma of seeing the hip-hop producer shot by two people he knew and treated like family, Karl Jordan Jr. and Ronald Washington.

"I was scared. I was surprised at who I saw and what happened," Rincon said, explaining that he'd struggled to fathom what had transpired.

"I didn't understand what I saw, and I didn't understand why or who - because, again, it was somebody I knew. So that's why it was hard for me to grasp," he said.

According to Rincon, Jordan, who was Mizell's godson, "walked directly to Jay - gave him half a handshake and at the same time, that's when I hear a couple of shots. I see Jay just fall."

Rincon, too, had been shot in his left leg.

He told prosecutors, "I am on the floor tending to my wound and also trying to pay attention to Jason, shaking him, asking him if he's okay and he's not responding."

Rincon's sworn testimony is the first time he's ever identified the shooter by name.

At the time of the shooting, and for 15 years, he's maintained that he did not know who killed Mizell when asked by reporters, the NYPD and federal investigators.

When asked why he finally did so, Rincon said he thought of Mizell's surviving family.

"I felt that his wife and his children needed closure, and I felt that they should know what took place," he said.

When the defense attorney asked if he was scared testifying in court, he answered, "Of course."

Both Jordan and Washington, who was a childhood friend of the DJ, were arrested in 2020. Prosecutors say the two had been planning a cocaine deal with the rap star and killed him because they were about to get cut out.

They have pleaded not guilty.

Some of the those in the courtroom Wednesday were relieved to hear Rincon's testimony.

"I like the guy that's testifying," said Ronald Capehart, friend of the late hip-hop DJ. "It seems like he's telling the truth, he went through a horrible thing and when that happened and they killed Jay, he didn't know if he was next."

The trial began on Monday, and on Tuesday, Brooklyn Federal Judge LaShann DeArcy Hall ruled that Jordan's rap lyrics - which include first-person accounts of violence and drug dealing - would not be used against him at trial, as prosecutors sought.

Testimony is set to resume Thursday.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

RELATED | Darla Miles provides a look inside the Jam Master Jay murder trial

Darla Miles joins the Eyewitness News @ 10 team after watching the proceedings inside the courtroom.


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