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3 dead, 5 injured as biker gang shootout erupts in Red River, New Mexico

Douglas Sacha/Getty Images

(RED ROCK, N.M.) — Three people were killed and five others were injured when a shootout erupted between two outlaw biker gangs at the annual Red River Memorial Day Motorcycle Rally in New Mexico, police said.


As tens of thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts converged on the Taos County resort town for the annual event and live music festival, members of the Bandidos and Water Dog biker gangs got into a fight in which multiple rounds of gunfire were traded between the two groups, New Mexico State Police Chief Tim Johnson said at a news conference Sunday morning.

Johnson said all eight people shot in the episode, including those killed, were members of the two biker gangs.

“I’ll apologize initially to the law abiding citizens that came to Red River to have a good Memorial Day Weekend, not the gangbangers that are ruining it for all of them, but for everyone there will be zero tolerance from this point forward,” Johnson said, adding that even people caught jay walking will be subject to arrest. “This is not going to happen again this weekend because we’re not going to allow it.”

As many as 28,000 bikers were expected to arrive in Red River this weekend for the 41st annual motorcycle rally.

The shooting erupted around 5 p.m. Saturday on Main Street on the east side of Red River when a confrontation occurred between members of the two biker gangs, Johnson said.

He said the fight was apparently over a photograph members of one of the gangs took with another outlaw biker gang in Albuquerque a few days ago.

“That spilled over to here, where they ran into each other again and a confrontation started. It started with words initially, then it turned into a fight, which then turned to shots fired,” Johnson said.

Killed in the shootout were two members of the Bandidos Johnson identified as Anthony Silva, 26, of Los Lunas, New Mexico, and Damian Breaux, 46, of Socorro, New Mexico. Also killed was Randy Sanchez, 46, of Albuquerque, a member of the Water Dogs, Johnson said.

Johnson said Jacob Castillo, 30, of Rio Rancho, New Mexico, a member of the Water Dogs, was arrested on suspicion of murder. Castillo was wounded in the incident and remained in a hospital on Sunday.

Two other members of the Bandidos who wounded in the shooting, Matthew Jackson, 39, of Austin, Texas, and Christopher Garcia, 41, were also arrested on charges that Johnson said were “somewhat unrelated” to the shootings. Jackson was taken into custody on a charge of unlawful carrying of a firearm inside a liquor establishment, and Garcia was arrested on a charge of possessing cocaine, Johnson said.

After being treated at a local hospital, Garcia and Johnson were booked at the Taos County Detention Center.

Three other biker gang members — ages 53, 31 and 43 — were wounded in the shooting and remained hospitalized Sunday, Johnson said. Their conditions were not released.

One of the wounded men was airlifted to a Denver hospital, according to the chief.

Johnson asked anyone who witnessed the gunfight or has video of it contact police investigators immediately.

At least 32 State Police officers and a number of other law enforcement officers from different agencies were already on patrol in Red River when the shooting broke out, Johnson said.

He said that on Friday, the New Mexico State Police received information from the Texas Department of Public Safety that 400 to 500 members of the Bandidos biker gang were riding from Texas to Red River.

Four days ago, two members of the Bandidos biker gang were arrested on charges stemming from a drive-by shooting in Lubbock, Texas, in which a member of the Mongols biker gang was targeted, authorities said.

“In early in April, I believe there was two shootouts, one in Oklahoma City, and another one in Dallas involving Bandidos,” Johnson said.

Johnson said that as long as members of the biker gangs remain in town, he could not guarantee everyone attending the motorcycle rally will be safe.

Red River Mayor Linda Calhoun said that based on a recommendation from the State Police, the city is encouraging most businesses in the city to remain closed for the remainder of the holiday weekend.

“We do realize that we have a town full of people that still need to eat and be taken care of. So, the ones who would open will be taking extra caution to make sure they keep everybody safe,” Calhoun said.

Officials in nearby Taos put in place an emergency curfew beginning at 10 p.m. Saturday. All alcohol sales were to be stopped during the emergency proclamation, which was posted on the town’s Facebook page.

The FBI and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are assisting the State Police with the investigation.

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