Bouncer found guilty of weapon charges in Proof shooting(Detroit Free Press)

Ronald J. Hansen The Detroit News

DETROIT — The bouncer who killed the rapper Proof after firing warning shots in a club was convicted Wednesday of two weapons crimes in the April gunfight.

A Wayne County jury took less than five hours to convict Mario Etheridge, 35, of shooting in an occupied building and carrying a concealed weapon. He was not charged with killing Proof, who had shot Etheridge’s cousin moments after the two warning shots.

He is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 17 in Wayne Circuit Court.

Elizabeth Walker, an assistant county prosecutor, maintained Etheridge made matters worse when Proof, 32, began fighting with 28-year-old Keith Bender Jr.

“There was too much testosterone in the club and he added another cupful,” she said after the verdict. “You’re not going to make a situation better by bringing a gun into it.”

Etheridge’s dejected family complained afterward that the verdict wasn’t fair and failed to account for a man simply trying to end the fight.

The April 11 shooting happened about 4 a.m. at the C.C.C. Club on Eight Mile. An intoxicated Proof, whose real name was Deshaun Holton, had hectored a man who was beating him at pool.

Bender, an Army veteran who was celebrating news of an improved heart condition, had words with Proof, presumably about the way he had treated the man.

As the fight escalated, Etheridge fired two shots into the club’s ceiling, witnesses said.

Moments later, Proof shot Bender, in the face, and Etheridge then shot and killed Proof.

Etheridge’s attorney, Randall Upshaw, had told the jury that his client wasn’t aggressive until Proof shot his cousin.

Proof died at the club and Bender died a week later.

You can reach Ronald J. Hansen at (313) 222-2019 or rhansen@detnews.com.

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