Man dies in gun battle at Fresno motorcycle club’s annual dance

Authorities near Fresno, Calif. investigate what spurred a "running gun battle" at a motorcycle club's annual dance. (Associated Press)

A gun battle at the Soul Brothers’ motorcycle club in Fresno, Calif. left one man dead and at least a dozen injured early Saturday morning. Several hundred people had gathered for the annual dance at the clubhouse on Friday evening. The shooting began inside the club around 2 a.m. that morning and then moved outside. The man who died was Dejuan Gladney, 18, according to the Associated Press:

As the first of more than 100 law enforcement officers arrived early Saturday morning, shots were still being fired around the Soul Brothers clubhouse near Fresno, the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office said. . . .

The shooting quickly turned into “a running gun battle” in the street outside the club, and hundreds of partygoers were running for cover when the first officers arrived, sheriff’s spokesman Chris Curtice said.

Residents in the area described being awakened by the sound of gunshots and roaring motorcycles. . . .

Gladney and several injured people were found in the clubhouse, which is in an unincorporated neighborhood of Fresno County called Calwa. Another victim was on a nearby street.

Curtice said the injuries ranged from minor to “extremely serious.” Authorities have not released the names of the people who were wounded.

Associated Press

The Fresno Bee described the Soul Brothers chapter in Fresno, which is affiliated with several others in the southwest:

Once a year, the club hosts other motorcycle clubs including the Oakland-based East Bay Dragons and clubs from throughout California and the southwest.

Donnie Turnmire, 51, who lives near the Calwa club, said while club members seem nice, the violence that often ensues there is not.

“I have kids and I know my kids get pretty nervous -- it’s scary for them,” Turnmire said. “It’s unfortunate. No one wants a shooting around their house. It’s pretty dangerous.”

Turnmire has lived in Calwa for “too long,” he says -- 18 years. Over the past couple of years, he said, there have been several shootings around the motorcycle club. After Saturday’s shooting, he woke up to find a trail of blood on the street in front of his home. . . .

The Soul Brothers club were founded several decades ago. The club touts its multiracial membership and the club’s patch depicts a black arm with clenched fist crossed with a similar white arm. Most members ride Harley-Davidson motorcycles; some also ride Japanese sport bikes.

Large gatherings of bikers make Fresno their destination twice a year in the spring and fall. While the motorcyclists generally are peaceful, police usually put extra officers on duty to prevent bikers from speeding, pulling wheelies and drinking in public.

Violence has occurred frequently at the gatherings. This spring, a shooting broke out at a motel near Highway 99 and Olive Avenue where bikers were gathered and several were wounded. Several years ago, one person was killed at a dance held by bikers in southwest Fresno.

The violence isn’t always started by the bikers. Police say gang members often attend the dances and gang rivalries can erupt at the events.

The Fresno Bee

Authorities have not yet made any arrests in Saturday morning’s shooting.

_

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Max Ehrenfreund is a blogger on the Financial desk and writes for Know More and Wonkblog.
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