A Fresno motorcycle club’s annual dance brought in thousands of bikers from out of town this past weekend. Fresno Police call many of them gang members.
Chief Jerry Dyer credits a safe weekend to the deployment of a hundred officers being proactive. Police say gatherings hosted by the Soul Brothers motorcycle club have sparked gun violence in the past. They say these events attract west Fresno gang members. Last weekend, law enforcement was ready.
Captain Mark Salazar of the southwest Fresno policing district says his team kept constant communication with the Soul Brothers motorcycle club leading up to its annual celebration. Salazar says the chapter’s events can bring in negative attention.
“And not so much the group itself but people like gang members that go to their events. And so in the past we’ve had murders, we’ve had shootings, we’ve had officer involved shootings,” said Salazar.
Just last month, a fight between rival biker gangs at Roeding Park left two men shot and another beaten unconscious. Salazar says the Soul Brothers event attracted bikers from southern and northern California as well as Reno and Las Vegas.
“We know that some of them are parolees, probationers that are carrying firearms. We know some of them are wanted. Not all of them but there is a group in there,” said Salazar.
During last weekend’s operation, police issued more than 400 citations, made nine felony arrests and 111 misdemeanor arrests. 42 people were caught driving under the influence of alcohol and officers impounded 139 vehicles and seized two guns. Police say all of this activity was associated with the Soul Brothers gathering. But communication with leaders of the club helped prevent any violence.
“Our message to Soul Brothers and all the groups below them was ‘hey come and have a good time. We’re gonna be out in force and then you can have your good time and go home,'” said Salazar.