Source: Lincoln Journal Star
The state fire marshal has shut down a biker clubhouse being run out of a former gas station in northeast Lincoln, which investigators believe was operating as an illegal bar.
The white sign for Zodiac’s Motorcycle Club, at 8805 Cornhusker Highway, still says open and a cardboard sign in the window states it’s a private clubhouse.
But the Nebraska State Fire Marshal’s Office has closed it until further notice after an inspection March 30 found it lacked a safe second exit.
Five days earlier, a woman and her boyfriend had reported a brawl there, according to court documents. The pair told Lancaster County sheriff’s deputies they paid a cover charge to attend an after-party there that was still going at 4 a.m.
Inside, as many as 100 people stood shoulder-to-shoulder as alcohol was being sold, investigators said in an affidavit requesting a judge’s permission to search the building.
When the argument broke out early March 25, the couple told investigators, people in Zodiac’s Motorcycle Club leather vests and patches became involved. Then, they said, “‘all hell broke loose’ and (chairs), beer bottles and anything else that could be thrown were ‘flying through the air,'” according to the affidavit.
The woman said someone punched her in the face as she ran toward the door, knocking her down as people trampled her. Outside, she found her boyfriend dazed on the ground.
He had been kicked and hit several times with a metal pipe, suffering a broken nose, broken finger and other injuries, investigators reported.
That incident is still under investigation, and no arrests had been made as of Tuesday, Sheriff Terry Wagner said. The two-story brick building is owned by Anthony Schuster, who runs a meat business out of the rear side. Zodiac’s rents the main floor for $800 a month, investigators said in their affidavit.
When deputies searched the building, they found a bar with assorted alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages stored and on display.
“Electronic music devices and lights commonly associated and or used with dance club or bar, were observed on the bar and along the ceiling behind the bar,” investigators wrote.
Tickets, wristbands and food and beverage request tickets, along with an Apple tablet and Apple Pay device, were also found inside. During the search, a club member told investigators the Zodiac’s Motorcycle Club takes donations for alcohol but charges money for food.
A sign behind the bar listed the number of tickets for alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages and included the ticket price for chips.
Zodiac’s does not have a liquor license or pending application for a license with the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission, according to the commission’s website. Under Nebraska law, operating an unlicensed bar is a misdemeanor that carries a $500 fine.
The Lincoln Police Department considers the motorcycle club a confirmed gang, with members involved in drug trafficking, weapons, burglary and assault investigations, the sheriff’s investigators said in their affidavit.
In the past, the club has held fundraisers to provide needy children with bicycles and gaming consoles, or poor families with furniture. Its Facebook page included events such as an ugly-sweater party two days before Christmas and a “Ladies Night” in January.
The Journal Star couldn’t reach the club through the phone number listed on its Facebook page.
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