updated 12/1/2006 9:59:02 AM ET 2006-12-01T14:59:02

Relatives of a groom shot by police hours before he was to have been married prepared instead for his funeral, set for Friday night at the church where the wedding was supposed to happen.

The Rev. Lester Williams, who had planned to preside over the wedding, said writing Sean Bell’s eulogy has been a draining, tearful endeavor.

“I am exasperated. I’m overwhelmed, and I am angry,” Williams said Thursday. “This has been one of the saddest times of my life, behind the death of my own mother.”

Police said they were drawing closer to finding a man they say is a key witness to detectives’ shooting of Bell, 23, and two other unarmed men — but survivors said the mystery man does not exist. The witness may have been with the three men who were shot early Saturday by five officers who fired 50 rounds at their car, police said.

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said a Wednesday apartment raid that led to the arrests of four people was related to the investigation into the shooting, which touched off outrage in the community. He declined to elaborate.

The intensity of the search for the fourth man reflected its potential impact on a case rife with conflicting accounts and unanswered questions about why the officers unleashed the barrage of bullets.

Police union officials have suggested that a fourth man could have fled with a gun — a scenario investigators have not ruled out.

“The existence of a fourth person is important to this investigation,” Kelly said.

The hospitalized survivors, Joseph Guzman and Trent Benefield, insist there was never a fourth person, their lawyer said Thursday.

“The claim of a fourth person is a myth,” said the attorney, Sanford Rubenstein.

Charlie King, an attorney for five others at the bachelor party, also said there was no fourth person in the car.

Ciminal charges for police?
The unnamed undercover shooter and four others — identified as detectives Mike Oliver, Mark Cooper and Paul Hedley, and officer Mike Carey — have been placed on paid administrative leave while the Queens District Attorney’s office conducts a grand jury investigation that could result in criminal charges.

An undercover officer has told investigators that another missing witness — a man dressed in black and standing in front of a sport utility vehicle — argued with Bell and his companions as they exited the club. The officer was part of a vice team investigating complaints about prostitution and drug dealing at the club.

Outside the club, the man in black reached into his pocket as if he had a weapon as Bell challenged him to a fight and one of the groom’s friends said, “Yo, get my gun,” two law enforcement officials said, citing the undercover officer’s account.

Officials said the exchange prompted a second undercover detective to follow Bell and three other men as they walked away toward their car, apparently suspecting the men meant to arm themselves and attack the man in black.

Moments later, the second undercover officer started shooting at the car when Bell, while trying to drive away, bumped him and smashed into an unmarked police van.

Through his lawyer, the detective has insisted that he clearly identified himself as a police officer as he tried to stop them. He also has said he spotted Guzman, then sitting in the passenger seat, make a sudden move for his waistband before he and four other officers opened fire.

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