FLAGSTAFF — A motorcycle club claims that Arizona’s state police and the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office violated their civil rights after they were rousted at gunpoint at a northern Arizona campsite where a man shot his wife and two others before killing himself.
The Sons of Hell club and 15 of its Yuma-area members or their spouses filed a lawsuit against Department of Public Safety officers and sheriff’s deputies, claiming they were targeted following the July 22, 2011, shooting. They say they weren’t involved in the shooting but the officers were trying to collect information for a criminal street gang database.
The motorcycle club members were among hundreds of bikers gathered at the Mormon Lake Lodge Campground when the shooting happened. Officers from the sheriff’s office, the Department of Public Safety, the area anti-gang task force, and the Flagstaff Police Department quickly responded.
Investigators found two women and two men shot and quickly determined that Christian Tejada got into an argument with his wife, Desiree Tejada, about having guests over for dinner. They say he shot his wife and then turned the gun on their two guests, Edgar and Trina Atzin, killing the couple. He then killed himself.
Desiree Tejada survived being shot six times.
The club was camped in an area away from the shooting, and the suit alleges a drunken camper pointed to the motorcycle club as possibly being involved. The suit says officers quickly discounted the story but went ahead and entered their camp, awakening its members, their wives, girlfriends and family members at gunpoint.
They were held for three hours even through officers knew they weren’t involved, according to the lawsuit.
A sheriff’s spokesman declined to comment to The Arizona Daily Sun. DPS spokesman Bart Graves said Saturday the agency had no comment.
The club and its members filed an amended version of their suit in U.S. District Court earlier this month. They are seeking costs, possible cash compensation, and orders preventing state police and the sheriff’s office from targeting motorcyclists because they belong to a club.