The often make-believe violence of American bike-gang culture turned deadly at the weekend when one person was shot dead and 10 wounded during a gang fight at a meeting called the Hellraiser Ball on Long Island, New York.
Raymond Dwyer of New York, a member of the Hells Angels, has been charged with the second-degree murder of Robert Rutherford, 51, a rider from Pennsylvania with a rival gang called the Pagan Outlaws.
The event, featuring tattoo and body-piercing shows and a swap market for bikes and accessories, was organised by the Long Island chapter of the Hells Angels at the elegant Vanderbilt hall in Plainview. Among other touted attractions were a former gang member, Chuck Zito, now a Hollywood bodyguard turned actor, and Sonny Barger, the much-imprisoned national president of the Angels. More than 1,000 people attended, including bikers' children.
Ten vans full of Pagans from along the East Coast arrived at around 4pm and dozens of members of the gang poured out andburst in to the meeting. According to one woman who was there with her boyfriend: "a bunch of people were trying to bust the front doors. The next thing, everyone was being pushed and somebody started shooting oh God, it was absolute pandemonium."
Another witness described a panicked rush of people as shooting broke out. "There were little kids in strollers and people screaming 'get out of there, get out of there'."
Police believe that Mr Barger's presence may have triggered the mayhem. Although he runs a motorcycle shop in Arizona and claims to have retired, he is an almost mythical figure in the bike gang world, beloved by the Angels but hated by the Pagans. The bad blood between the gangs was no secret, and police cars were waitingoutside the hall.
More than 60 people were detained by police, who also seized four handguns, an Uzi sub-machine gun, knives, baseball bats and other weapons.
The second day of the event was cancelled.Reuse content