It was the spritz heard ’round the world. The spray, a blast of mace or pepper spray that reportedly hit R. Kelly and his bodyguards in the face backstage at Madison Square Garden last month, sent the singer to the hospital and brought his dispute with tour co-headliner Jay-Z to the breaking point, leading to Kelly’s ouster from the tour and his $90 million breach of contract suit against Jay and the tour’s promoter. Now, MTV News reports, New York police have arrested Tyran ”Ty Ty” Smith, the Jay-Z associate Kelly’s camp has blamed for the noxious spray. He was charged with assault in the third degree and could face a year behind bars if convicted.
Word of Smith’s arrest came from a statement made by Kelly’s publicist. Kelly had filed a criminal complaint against Smith after the Oct. 29 concert, during which the singer left the stage because he said he saw guns in the audience. Smith is also cited in Kelly’s lawsuit, which says that Kelly was on his way back to the stage, security staffers having found no weapons in the crowd, when Smith, ”without provocation,” sprayed Kelly and his posse in the eyes with mace or pepper spray. The suit accuses Smith of acting ”on instruction and authorization from Jay-Z.”
Smith, a friend of Jay-Z’s since childhood, who ran the rapper’s short-lived Carter Facultyrecord label, claimed he wasn’t backstage that night, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Talking to EW.com, Jay-Z publicist Jana Fleishman declined to comment on the incident or Smith’s arrest, noting that the rapper was onstage at the time and wasn’t privy to the goings-on backstage.