Prosecutors announced charges Monday against 17 people who are either members of the Hells Angels motorcycle gang or supporters of the group who allegedly took part in a racially motivated attack on three Black men in Ocean Beach this summer.
A grand jury indictment returned earlier this month charges the group of defendants in the June 6 attack that left one man stabbed and another severely beaten.
San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan said the melee was possibly sparked because one of the victims “dared to talk to one of the girlfriends of these members.”
Stephan said the victims — ages 19, 20 and 21 — were chased by the defendants, who hurled racial slurs and told the victims they didn’t belong in that neighborhood.
While one victim was able to flee, the other two men were beaten on Newport Avenue.
One of those men, who was lying on the ground after several people beat him, was also allegedly stabbed in the chest by 43-year-old Troy Anthony Scholder, described as a “longtime Hells Angels leader.” After the stabbing, other defendants spirited Scholder from the crime scene to the gang’s clubhouse in El Cajon, Stephan said.
Scholder, who faces the most serious charges among the group, including one count of attempted murder, faces up to 39 years to life in state prison if convicted. Others face prison terms ranging from three to 17 years.
Stephan said Hells Angels has chapters across the state, including an active chapter in San Diego County. Along with engaging in criminal activity, the motorcycle gang is “well known to have a despicable streak of racism, especially against Black people,” she said.
Among the defendants, 11 face hate crime allegations, while 14 face allegations of committing the attack in order to benefit a gang.
All 17 defendants were arrested last Thursday and Stephan said surveillance footage, cell phone evidence and witness testimony helped identify who was involved in the brawl.
“In San Diego County, we cannot, and will not tolerate violence and racism of any nature, much less crimes like this hateful, vicious and unprovoked attack,” Stephan said in a statement.
Several of the defendants appeared in court on Monday.
Scholder is in custody without bail. Those who were allowed to remain out of custody must follow certain conditions, including not associating with the Hells Angels or other motorcycle gangs, and to stay away from the block of Newport Avenue where the alleged attack took place.
“These disgusting hate-driven attacks have no place in our community,” said San Diego police Chief David Nisleit. “There is no stronger way to condemn this violence than to hold the perpetrators accountable to the fullest force of the law.”