The Soul Brothers Motorcycle Club took issue Thursday with allegations that the group was responsible for a weekend shooting incident at a Fresno Motel 6 in which three people were wounded.
Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer said Wednesday that shortly after 2 a.m. Sunday people began firing weapons in the motel parking lot at Olive and Crystal avenues. Three people were wounded and taken to a hospital in a party bus.
The shooting happened as hundreds of motorcyclists from Northern and Southern California were in town, part of a “halfway run” event. Motorcycle clubs come to Fresno every spring and fall in the events, which have been taking place for decades.
Eric Duarte, president of the Merced chapter of the Soul Brothers, said “We had nothing (going on) on Olive and (Highway) 99. Absolutely nothing.
“We rented a hall, we had security – we had all that. Everything that happened on Olive and 99 is the responsibility of Motel 6. They allowed the bikers to have a party in the parking lot with no security – nothing.”
Efforts to get a response from Motel 6 to the allegations were unsuccessful. A manager at the Olive and Crystal motel referred The Bee to Motel 6’s corporate office, which did not respond.
In a written statement, Duarte added:
“I would like to respond to Chief Dyer’s statement about the Soul Brothers’ involvement in the shooting ... Let me start by saying our club held a two-day event in west central Fresno and Roeding Park. Both days were a success due in part to the large number of security officers hired for these events.
“That being said, the Soul Brothers Motorcycle Club had no involvement in what took place Saturday night at Motel 6. Nor were any club members even staying at that motel. Instead of placing responsibility on us, it should be placed on Motel 6.
“People who attend our gatherings generally come from several hundred, if not thousands, of miles away to attend. They keep coming year after year because they enjoy what Fresno has to offer.
“The problem is not violence on the motorcycle club scene, it’s violence around Fresno. There are news reports of shootings every day in Fresno. We seem to be used as a scapegoat when the shooting took place on our weekend, even though it was nowhere near our event and no one in our club was identified to be involved.
“We reached out to Fresno Police Department ... weeks prior to our event and there was no response.”
The Soul Brothers have 12 chapters in five states. The club embraced a multi-ethnic makeup decades ago when most motorcycle clubs were racially divided, as featured on the club’s patch of a black arm with clenched first crossed with a similar white arm.