BY: Carson Walker SD – ~Law officers: Gang violence a constant at Sturgis Rally~ STURGIS – Shootings stemming from the annual Sturgis motorcycle rally in 2006 and this year were the first major violence since 1990, but outlaw biker gangs generally have been no more violent than usual, law enforcement officers say. Grand jurors in Sturgis indicted a wounded Hells Angel and five members of the Iron Pigs motorcycle club following a bar fight at this year’s rally. And two Hells Angel members are scheduled to stand trial in November on charges they sparked a firefight two years ago at Custer State Park that injured six rival Outlaws gang members. Before then, the last major public violence involving motorcycle gangs was in 1990, when an Outlaws gang member was shot by a rival Sons of Silence member in a bar brawl in which two other Sons of Silence members were stabbed. Sturgis Police Chief Jim Bush said those are the only times in his 30 years of working the rally that rivalries erupted to such a level but that gangs are always a major challenge for law enforcement and a big part of the planning process. “There’s never been a year when we’ve not dealt with gangs,” he said. “Anytime you’re dealing with outlaw motorcycle gangs, you have an opportunity for violence.” He and Meade County State’s Attorney Jesse Sondreal said the level really hasn’t changed. Common offenses include assaults, drugs and weapon violations. “There’s violent activity that whole week. It just happens to take place outside the purview of the press,” Sondreal said. Investigating crimes can be difficult because the gangs often protect their own through intimidation, Bush said. “Very seldom can you get a good witness when an outlaw motorcycle gang is involved,” he said. Better security was one of the reasons cited in moving the case against the two Hells Angels bikers charged with the 2006 shootout from Custer to Sioux Falls. Prosecutors charged Chad Wilson of Lynnwood, Wash., and John Midmore of Valparaiso, Ind., with shooting at Outlaws bikers at Legion Lake Resort. The duo pleaded not guilty to seven counts: one count of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, five counts of attempted first-degree murder and one count of commission of a felony while armed. The five Outlaws who were shot and wounded are: Thomas Hass, Al Mathews, Danny Neace, Claudia Wables and Susan Evans-Martin. Another woman, Crystal Schuster, suffered injuries unrelated to a gunshot. Their addresses are not included in court documents. The trial has been delayed several times, including for an appeal to the state Supreme Court. A pretrial hearing is scheduled for Thursday. Wilson and Midmore also filed a federal complaint that accuses federal agencies and officials of withholding information that could help their claim they acted in self-defense because rival Outlaws members targeted them. The government filed a motion to dismiss that case but the judge instead wants to consider a motion for summary judgment, a ruling before trial. At a crowded bar during last month’s rally, Ronald Smith, an off-duty Seattle police detective, shot Hells Angel member Joseph McGuire of Imperial Beach, Calif., authorities said. Both men are charged with alternative counts of aggravated and simple assault and Smith is charged with perjury. Misdemeanor gun charges were also brought against them and four of Smith’s fellow bikers: Scott Lazalde of Bellingham, Wash.; Dennis McCoy of Seattle; Erik Pingel of Aurora, Colo.; and James Rector of Ferndale, Wash. Smith and those four belong to a national group of police and firefighters called the Iron Pigs Motorcycle Club.
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