A fight over a photograph between the Bandidos biker gang and its rival Waterdogs sparked a brawl on Saturday that left three people fatally shot and six wounded, New Mexico police said on Sunday.
State police had already increased their presence in the town of Red River, less than an hour north of Taos, in anticipation of thousands arriving for the Red River Memorial Day Motorcycle Rally, New Mexico State Police Chief Tim Johnston told the Santa Fe New Mexican.
Shots rang out at around 5pm on Saturday and responding officers found two dead and six injured, authorities said on Sunday. All were members of organised motorcycle gangs. One injured person was airlifted to Denver for treatment and five were taken to area hospitals, where one was pronounced dead.
According to Chief Johnston, a confrontation over a photograph had been sparked in Albuquerque between the Bandidos gang from Texas and New Mexico-based Waterdogs. The disagreement continued in Red River and escalated, he told the New Mexican.
“Something as stupid as that,” he said, referring to a picture that showed “somebody taking a picture with a different gang.”
The three dead have been identified as Anthony Silva, 26, of Los Lunas, NM; Randy Sanchez, 46, of Albuquerque, NM; and Damian Breaux, 46, of Socorro, NM, police said on Sunday.
Jacob David Castillo, 30, of Rio Rancho, NM has been charged with one open count of murder; injured in the incident, he remained hospitalised on Sunday and will be booked into Taos County Detention Center upon his release, officials said.
Also injured was Christopher Garcia, 41, of Texas, who was charged with possession of cocaine when he was released from the hospital and booked into jail, according to a release from the New Mexico Department of Public Safety.
Matthew Charles Jackson, 39, of Austin, Texas was charged with unlawful carrying of a firearm in a liquor establishment and booked into the Taos County Detention Center, too, police said.
Four other injured people, aged between 31 and 53, “will not be identified unless they are eventually charged with a crime,” the DPS release said.
Chief Johnston said that area hospitals had been locked down following the Saturday incident.
“It’s been our experience, and I think it’s been the experience around the country when dealing with these types of gang bangers, is that when somebody gets shot or is killed and they go to the hospital, all their friends like to go there to be with them or pay respects or to protect them,” he told the New Mexican. “But again, we had a mess here. We didn’t also want to have a mess at all the hospitals because there’s obviously a lot of innocent folks there that needed our protection.”
He said: “I’ll apologise initially to the law-abiding citizens that came to Red River to have a good Memorial Day weekend, not the gang bangers that are ruining it for all of them.”
Officials said the investigation was ongoing and appealed for witnesses or anyone with footage to contact New Mexico State Police.