The Savage Assassins might look tough. Many are covered in tattoos and wear patches depicting a satanic figure. All drive big Harleys.
But the motorcycle group’s founder, J. Upton, says Fresno deputies are the savage ones.
Upton said deputies crashed a Savage Assassins party last weekend, damaging property and toting off personal belongings in their search for an armed felon. The Savage Assassins said they don’t know the wanted man.
Fresno sheriff’s officials said seven “affiliates of a motorcycle gang” were arrested and 43 were detained early Sunday morning after an hours-long standoff. Of those arrested, only Rey Rodriguez, 31, of Fresno and Stephen Meza, 58, of Tulare were accused of being gang members in possession of firearms.
Upton, 39, said his group and the party’s guests were discriminated against because of their appearance, and they were slandered by being called a “gang.”
So he wants to clear the air.
“I don’t want to drag nobody through the mud, you know what I mean?” Upton said. “I don’t want to be a nuisance. But they wasted a lot of time and taxpayer dollars.”
It all started Saturday afternoon when partygoers — among them elderly men and women, county employees, pregnant women, fathers and Christian bikers — were enjoying $20 chicken platters and drinks at the motorcycle clubhouse as part of a fundraiser for the organization.
Armed officials had been patrolling the area since morning. They knew about the party, Upton said. He had posted fliers for the event a month before.
Tony Botti, a spokesman for the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office, said gang detectives spotted a man with a gun whom they later identified as Rey Rodriguez in the 3200 block of East Belmont Avenue near the Savage Assassins property. Detectives recognized Rodriguez, a felon who was not allowed to carry weapons, as a member of the Hells Angels motorcycle gang.
Detectives called out to Rodriguez, but he walked into the Savage Assassins clubhouse, Botti said. Savage Assassins members then closed their gate, locked officers out and demanded a warrant from authorities.
For almost seven hours, guests were locked inside while deputies got a warrant. Sheriff’s officials and Upton disagree about who was responsible for the detainment.