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Biker recounts chaos of highway shooting

Ted Lempart thought someone was throwing rocks at his motorcycle.

He was riding with a group of fellow Vagos Motorcycle Club members on Interstate 11/U.S. Highway 95 late last month when he saw a man and woman fly off a bike in front of him, landing in the rocks by the side of the highway. Lempart testified to a grand jury that it wasn’t until he pulled over to help the other bikers that someone noticed the blood on his thigh and he realized he had been shot, according to court transcripts released recently.

Lempart was one of several witnesses who described the chaos surrounding the May 29 shooting, when prosecutors said Hells Angels members targeted the Vagos bikers on the highway in the southeast valley.

Although most of the Vagos members who testified gave few details about the shooting, Lempart didn’t hesitate to tell jurors how he felt about the rival bikers he said ambushed his group.

“It’s cowardly,” Lempart testified. “Whatever happened to the day we go in the backyard and duke it out? We had no problem with them. None at all.”

Three men — Richard Devries, 66, Russell Smith, 26, and Stephen Alo, 46 — have been indicted on 36 felony charges of conspiracy to commit murder, attempted murder, battery with a deadly weapon and discharging a gun at or into an occupied vehicle. Prosecutors have said Devries is the president of the Las Vegas chapter of the Hells Angels, while Smith and Alo have been described as “prospects” for the group.

Six Vagos members were injured in the shooting along the stretch of highway west of Wagon Wheel Drive. A seventh person, who prosecutors said was a Hells Angel member, was also injured in the shooting.

Prosecutors have said the gunfire may have been an act of retaliation for a shooting at a San Bernardino bar in April in which a Hells Angels member was killed. But Lempart challenged the claim, according to transcripts from the grand jury hearing.

“From what the media said, it’s retaliation. Of what?” Lempart said. “Only thing I understand is we didn’t do any shooting down in San Bernardino. They did it all. They shot their own guy because they thought he was a narc.”

The members of the rival groups first encountered each other at the Fly Your Flags Over Hoover Dam Run that ended at the Southern Nevada Veterans’ Memorial Cemetery in Boulder City.

At the cemetery, about nine Hells Angels bikers were riding around the parking lot, “revving their engines and setting off car alarms and yelling at people” before leaving, Lempart testified.

Shortly after 11:45 a.m., the Vagos members were riding side by side, in two lines, down Interstate 11/U.S. Highway 95. A witness who was a passenger in a car behind the bikers testified that she saw the Vagos members start weaving in and out of traffic as Hells Angels bikers tried surrounding them from behind.

The witness, who was only identified by her initials “A.M.” in court transcripts, said she started hearing gunshots and pulled out her phone to start videotaping. The video captured an initial burst of bullets when, according to officials, the Hells Angels opened fire on the rival motorcyclists.

Police later found at least 25 bullet cartridges strewn across the highway.

According to the transcripts, the video showed bikers whom the witness said she recognized as Hells Angels members from distinctive patches on their jackets.

The witness testified that minutes earlier, she had seen the group of Hells Angels members stopped in an emergency lane on a highway on-ramp.

Detective Benjamin MacDonell testified that he recognized multiple Hells Angels members in the video, including Devries, Smith and Alo.

MacDonell told the jury he had has spent six years investigating Las Vegas’ motorcycle clubs, which law enforcement refers to as outlaw motorcycle gangs.

MacDonell said that while the Vagos have a “large presence” of more than 50 members in Clark County, the Hells Angels only have one relatively small chapter. He said the Hells Angels in Las Vegas have three official members, referred to as “full patch members,” and four bikers who are hoping to join the group, who are called prospects.

“I know who all of them are, and there was only one full patch in the charter that was not there that day,” MacDonell testified.

On June 13, District Judge Tierra Jones lowered bail for Devries, Smith and Alo from $380,000 each to $75,000. All three men have since posted bond, court records show. They are due to appear in court again on Aug. 24.

Contact Katelyn Newberg at knewberg@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0240. Follow @k_newberg on Twitter.

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