New York hip-hop artist Cameron "Cam'ron" Giles, in the District for Howard University's annual homecoming and a hot celebrity-studded party in town Saturday night, is not the kind of guy who lives out his violent lyrics.
He is nicknamed "Killa Cam," but he's known more for his flamboyance -- for dripping in diamonds and wearing the color pink -- than for beefs with other rappers.
Yet early yesterday morning, his art became life.
Giles, driving his royal blue 2006 Lamborghini and wearing what a friend later described as $200,000 worth of diamonds and other jewelry, was shot in both arms after stopping at a red light on New York Avenue NW, police said.
"I got shot three times and my album comes out Nov. 22," Giles said as he left Howard University Hospital yesterday afternoon with an entourage of friends, fellow rappers and bodyguards. "We love Howard."
The group was with him at the hospital, but minutes before his release, members were finger-pointing and yelling at one another for not being with him at that red light when he needed them most.
Just after midnight, Giles, a platinum-selling artist, left H20, the nightclub on Water Street SW where hip-hop entrepreneur Diddy played host to a throng of celebrities including Venus Williams, hip-hop stars and Howard students and alumni for the Annual Homecoming Blockfest, according to his publicist.
Giles likes to hang by himself or go out with only one or two friends, unencumbered by bodyguards. But he had security at H20. So much, in fact, that owner Abdul Khanu said that although Giles was welcome, his entourage was not.
"The problem was he had so many people who were not dressed properly," Khanu said. "We have a fashionable dress code. He understood. He was cool with it. There was no way for him to vouch for 30 people."
Giles drove away in his Lamborghini with another person in the car. His entourage followed. But the convoy got hung up at a light and lost Giles, said his manager, Joseph "Big Joe" Sherman.
At 12:17 a.m., Giles stopped at a light at New York and New Jersey avenues, according to the D.C. police.
Two men in a burgundy Ford Expedition sport-utility vehicle pulled alongside. Police said one man got out of the SUV, armed with a gun.
Sherman said the man tried to take the Lamborghini but Giles cursed at him and sped away. That's when the man fired the gun and shot Giles in both arms, police said.
"It was a botched carjacking," Sherman said.
Police are investigating and would not characterize the motive for the shooting.
A protective services officer pursued the two men in the SUV, said Sgt. Joe Gentile, a D.C. police spokesman. The SUV hit a parked car and a house in the 600 block of U Street NW. The men abandoned the SUV and escaped.
Lynn Hobson, publicist for Giles and his Diplomat Records label, said police had recovered one of the suspect's cell phones. Gentile would not comment on potential evidence.
Yesterday afternoon, Giles was unmoved as he walked out of the hospital to the waiting TV cameras and the brightly colored vans that had "Duke Da God" and "The Diplomats" written on the sides.
"It was a sloppy job on their part. They didn't get anything," he said. "I still got my car and my jewelry." Giles fingered the rows of shiny chains on his neck.
Standing nearby, rapper and Giles protege Juelz Santana linked the incident to the popularity of Cam'ron and the Diplomats. "It is a movement," he said. "That's why . . . this happens. A lot of people love us, but then a lot of people hate us."
Giles has been in a fairly public feud with rapper Jay-Z, who next week plans to give an "I Declare War" concert aimed primarily at Giles. But the two artists are known to keep their animosity to their music. Giles also recently filed a federal lawsuit against another artist over a songwriting credit.
One friend wondered whether Giles's 2002 movie, "Paid in Full" -- in which his character, based on the legendary Harlem drug dealer Alpo, says he would rat out anyone in D.C. but would never tell on anyone in New York -- had alienated him here.
As Giles pulled away from the hospital in one of the vans, he said, "I didn't really get [a] homecoming."
Giles's forthcoming album is called "Killa Season."