|A security video tape of shootings, burly men stabbing each other with knives and other weapons at Harrrah’s casino, has been played during the first court appearance of Calvin Schaefer, a 32-year-old member of the Hells Angels who is the only suspect charged in the incident. Authorities contend the videotape showed Schaefer firing a gun 11 times. |
'He was not the only person firing,' homicide Detective Phil Ramos said as he pointed to the man he said was Schaefer on the video screen. “There were a number of people firing. But he's the one we're able to identify.'
Authorities acknowledged they have no evidence that showed a bullet fired by Schaefer struck anyone.
Chesnoff noted that the only Mongols member to die in the casino had been stabbed. Authorities said gunshot wounds killed two Hells Angels members.
'He didn't shoot his own guys,' Chesnoff said outside court.
Those who died in the riot have been identified as Robert Emmet Tumelty, 50, of Stockton, Calif.; Jeramie Dean Bell, 27, of Hughson, Calif.; and Anthony Salvador Barrera, 43, of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.
Ballistics tests on firearms evidence recovered from the crime scene are pending, Ramos said.
But even if those tests or other physical evidence do not directly identify Schaefer as the triggerman in the shootings, prosecutors said they still will pursue a murder charge against him.
Chief Deputy District Attorney Ron Bloxham said that under Nevada law, if someone joins with others to commit a crime and a slaying results, they can be charged with murder.
'They are just as guilty as a person who pulls the trigger,' the prosecutor said.
Bloxham said a second-degree murder charge could be pursued in the case if evidence suggested someone 'engaged in a course of conduct that results in the taking of a life.'
Defense attorney David Chesnoff argued that his client was responding to attacks by the Mongols, a rival motorcycle gang.
'Just because you are a Hells Angel doesn't mean you can't defend yourself,' Chesnoff said.
During the hearing, Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Deborah Lippis set Schaefer's bail at $250,000.
Schaefer sat quietly. At the end of the hearing, the clean-cut man with long black hair and goatee got teary-eyed while his attorneys appeared to be offering words of support.
Schaefer is scheduled to appear May 9 in Laughlin Justice Court.
Ramos said the death toll from the Laughlin fight might be more than three.
The detective said law enforcement in Southern California has gathered intelligence information suggesting some involved in the fight suffered grave wounds, then fled the casino and died elsewhere.
'Some of these individuals hurt in the fight chose not to seek medical attention,' Ramos said of the contents of the unconfirmed intelligence report.
'They were injured seriously enough that ... they did not survive,' Ramos said.
Ramos said no other bodies have been found so far, but they could be found somewhere 'alongside the road.'