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Producer downplays idea of warfare after rapper's murder

The producer for slain rapper Notorious B.I.G. said Friday that he is struggling to "make sense of why my friend is not here."

The victim was "a voice for people who aren't often heard, and one of the greatest rappers in the history of hip hop," Sean "Puffy" Combs said in a statement.

Combs, president of Bad Boy Entertainment, also said he doesn't believe the theory that a feud between rappers based on opposite coasts led to the drive-by shooting March 9 in Los Angeles. Police have made no arrests.

"In my heart and in my mind there is no East Coast-West Coast rap war," Combs said. "I do not want it. . . . There are enough obstacles we face as a people already."

Combs was with the 280-pound Notorious B.I.G. _ born Christopher Wallace and also known as Biggie Smalls _ the night Wallace died. But he says he didn't see the killer.

As Combs and Wallace left a rap industry party in separate cars, shots rang out. Combs found Wallace slumped in the seat of a GMC Suburban.

"I tried to pick him up, and some other people came over to the car and tried to pick him up and turn him over, but he was too heavy, so I pushed him to the side and closed the door," Combs told the New York Daily News.

He followed when a security officer drove Wallace's car to the hospital and helped get the body onto a stretcher there.

"I was scared, real scared," he said. "I was just praying and for some reason I just dropped to my knees right there and I prayed he was going to be all right."

Later, he was told that Wallace already was dead.

In the statement, Combs said he would use profits from Wallace's last recording, Life After Death, to open a new youth center in Brooklyn, where Wallace was born.

Wallace, he added, "will always be in my prayers, along with all of the urban youth whose lives were ripped away by senseless violence. It is time for change."