FELONY CHARGES FILED IN IRON PIGS STURGIS SHOOTING
The early-morning August 9, 2008, shooting incident at The Loud American Roadhouse in Sturgis during the annual Black Hills Rally has had immediate and far-reaching ramifications.
In that incident, a member of the Iron Pigs Motorcycle Club from Seattle, Washington, shot twice and wounded a member of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club from California.
The latest fallout is the adoption of a “No Colors” policy at The Loud American Roadhouse, according to local press reports.
“We’re committed to making sure our customers are safe and feel safe in the Loud American Roadhouse,” said Dean Kinney, one of the bar’s owners.
The move came a day after a Meade County, South Dakota grand jury called for the arrests of the shooting victim, four off-duty law enforcement officers and another biker.
In the incident, Seattle Police Detective Ronald Smith, a member of the Iron Pigs, allegedly shot Joseph McGuire of Imperial Beach, California in the stomach and leg while inside the Sturgis bar. McGuire has reportedly been removed from intensive care and is recovering from his wounds.
Smith initially claimed he was on the floor being beaten by a group of Hells Angels when he drew a concealed pistol and fired, wounding McGuire. Since that initial report, which was disputed, there were some changes to the officers’ story, and then all comment on details of the incident ceased.
After a speedy grand jury investigation, indictments against all persons involved in the fracas were handed down as the grand jury grand jury found probable cause for criminal charges against the participants.
Ronald Smith, 43, the off-duty Seattle Police Department detective and Iron Pig, was indicted for aggravated assault, perjury and carrying a concealed pistol without a permit. He faces up to 15 years in prison for assault and five years for perjury, also a felony. He also faces alternative charges of simple assault. The aggravated assault charge is a felony, the simple assault a misdemeanor. He can only be convicted on one of the two charges. He also faces charges of failure to abide by a permit of a reciprocal state.
Investigators have not released details into the perjury charge.
McGuire faces charges of aggravated assault and an alternative count of simple assault. The Hells Angels member faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted of aggravated assault, or up to one year in jail on the alternative charge.
Scott Lazalde, Bellingham, Washington, James Rector, 37, Ferndale, Washington, Dennis McCoy, 58, Seattle, Washington, and Erik Pingel, 35, Aurora, Colorado are each charged with carrying a concealed weapon without a permit or an alternative charge of failing to abide by a permit of a reciprocal state. They can be convicted of just one of the charges. All are reported to be members of the Iron Pigs.
Lazalde and Rector are members of the U.S. Customs and Border Inspection in Blaine, Washington. McCoy is a precinct patrol sergeant in Seattle. Pingel is reportedly a civilian firefighter at Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora, Colorado.
The indictments we issued after two days of testimony.
According to a news release, no court dates have been set in the case. The release said arrest warrants and court summons for the defendants will be issued and served as appropriate.
Spin in this case is already in full force. A South Dakota State Attorney reportedly said that after reviewing security tape of the altercation, “The hells angels clearly initiated the confrontation.”
The Seattle Police Officers guild, of which Smith is a governing officer, issued a statement defending the accused officers.
“We are certain that once all the facts are known, the involved SPOG (Seattle Police Officers Guild) members will be vindicated and absolved of any wrong-doing,” the guild said in a statement issued on the group’s website. “Until that occurs, we are heartened by the news that Detective Ron Smith is recovering from his serious injuries and that no other parties were injured except for Detective Smith and his alleged assailant.”
There has been no clarification of what injuries Smith might have suffered, and the statement was the first significant mention of alleged injuries. The guild has asked that the public refrain from passing judgment, and expressed confidence the accused officers would be cleared.
There has been no comment from the Seattle Police Department, which has a reputation for firing officers charged with felonies. The department did place Smith and McCoy on administrative leave, where they remain until more information is released. Three other Seattle officers present at the melee were initially placed on administrative leave, but have been returned to duty after it was determined they had nothing to do with the shooting, according to a statement by Seattle Police Department spokesman Jeffrey Kappel.
While the Hells Angels are well known to most motorcyclists, the Iron Pigs are a relatively new group.
While little is generally known about them, a statement posted on the website of the Iron Pigs MC, 1st Massachusetts Chapter, whose members refer to themselves as Massholes, provides some insight: “We are a 99% motorcycle club and belong to the biggest gang in the world—LAW ENFORCEMENT! We DO NOT associate with felons for obvious reasons!!!”
The site was taken offline after the shooting. One report claims the Iron Pigs are an offshoot of the Wild Pigs, another cop club, which was declared an outlaw criminal gang by the State of New Jersey a few years ago.
As thing progress, the Loud American Bar is back to business as usual, but owner Kinney expressed his dismay.
“I think it was surprising to all of us that that organization, the Iron Pigs, was in our establishment with guns,” Kinney said. “We certainly don’t appreciate it.”