California murder cited in Vegas-area biker shooting case

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HENDERSON, Nev. — A shooting that authorities say involved members of rival motorcycle gangs Hells Angels and Vagos on a Las Vegas-area freeway may have been retaliation for the murder of a man several years ago. weeks in Southern California, a prosecutor said Thursday.

Clark County Chief Assistant District Attorney Danielle Pieper Chio revealed the possible connection during the arraignment in suburban Henderson of three alleged Hells Angels members in the Memorial Day weekend shooting. Police say one is the president of the Las Vegas chapter and the other two were Hells Angels rookies.

Outside of court, Pieper Chio cited the April 23 shooting death of 32-year-old James Vincent Dickson during a heavy metal concert at a bar in the California town of San Bernardino. According to reports, four other people were injured, including a member of the band who was playing at the time. Pieper Chio said Dickson was a member of the Hells Angels.

“The allegation is that Vagos struck a member of the Hells Angels (in San Bernardino),” the prosecutor said, “and that possibly makes it a retaliatory shooting.”

San Bernardino police, including detectives assigned to Dickson’s murder, declined Thursday to comment on their investigation and the possible connection between Dickson’s death and the shootings near Las Vegas. No arrests have been reported in the San Bernardino case.

Henderson police said six members of Vagos were injured and Pieper Chio said a seventh person who presented to hospital with gunshot wounds attributed to Sunday’s midday shooting was a member of the Hell’s Angels.

Pieper Chio did not say whether the man’s injuries were inflicted by members of Vagos. No member of Vagos has been charged with a crime in the shooting.

Richard John Devries, 66, and club rookies Russell Smith, 46, and Stephen Alo, 26, were arraigned on Thursday on multiple charges of attempted murder, conspiracy, battery and weapons which could lead to them decades in prison.

Henderson Justice of the Peace David Gibson upheld each man’s bail at $380,000 pending another court appearance on June 14.

In court, Pieper Chio cited retaliation as a possible motive and said the Vagos members were returning to Las Vegas on motorcycles after stops at the Hoover Dam in Arizona and the Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Boulder City.

A person identified by police as an anonymous witness provided video showing three men dressed in Hells Angels gear heading towards Vagos members before shots were fired, according to police reports.

Pieper Chio said more than a dozen shots were fired at US 95 in Henderson and stray bullets hit a nearby Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints building and a vehicle parked. Police said spent bullet casings were found strewn more than a mile (1.6 kilometers) along the highway.

Devries’ attorney, Richard Schonfeld, refused in court to confirm whether his client ran the Hells Angels in Las Vegas. Schonfeld told the judge that Devries was a veteran with no criminal record and there was no evidence that he fired a weapon. The attorney said he intends to file paperwork to reduce Devries’ bail to an amount he can post.

Defense attorney Thomas Pitaro, representing Smith and Alo, also requested a lower bond, saying he doubted they could raise $380,000.

Gibson cited the stray shots and said he felt the three defendants posed a danger to the community.

“I’m afraid something is going on,” the judge said, noting that the shots took place “on a highway that I’m on, in a neighborhood where I live.”

Henderson police released a public request Thursday for witnesses to the shooting to contact investigators.

Schonfeld and Pitaro have represented members of the Hells Angels in prior cases in Las Vegas, including state and federal criminal cases stemming from a fatal casino brawl with members of rival Mongol motorcycle gangs at a Laughlin casino during a gathering of bikers in April 2002.

Vagos members have also faced federal prosecution in Nevada in recent years, but the group avoided being branded an international criminal enterprise following the murder of a rival Hells Angels leader during a 2011 casino shooting in the northern Nevada town of Sparks.

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