Jacksonville Beach, Florida Police Department Liaison Officer Sergeant Tommy Crumley issued a press release yesterday intended to clarify “a great deal of misinformation circulating in the public” regarding the homicide of Black Pistons patch holder Zachariah Tipton outside Nippers Beach Grille last month.
Multiple attempts by The Aging Rebel to obtain a copy of the release from Crumley were ignored. This morning Crumley was not answering his phone and his voice mailbox was full. But published and televised accounts in Jacksonville suggest that Crumley really did issue a press release and apparently it was intended to discredit this page’s coverage of the case.
According to television station WJXT:
“Among the misinformation, police said the shooter is not and has never been a law enforcement officer.”
“‘To the best of our knowledge, no one directly involved in this incident is or ever was a law enforcement officer,’ Sgt. Thomas Crumley wrote in a news release. ‘This was a dispute between members and/or associates of two motorcycle clubs that ended in violence. The deceased was struck by one round and died as a result of that wound.’”
Crumley’s statement immediately raises more questions than it answers, the most obvious of which is who Crumley thinks the shooter might be. Multiple sources, speaking on condition of anonymity – because although it should be obvious to everyone that what we report on around here is the motorcycle outlaw frontier not the House Committee on Roller Skating so some sources put themselves in legal or physical jeopardy by talking about what they know; that’s why the sources tend to be anonymous; but apparently that is not obvious – the Iron Order member or prospect who confessed to shooting Tipton in the head in “self defense” was not the actual shooter.
When this page asked Crumley last month whether the confessed shooter’s hands had been bagged and tested for gunshot residue the Liason Officer took the fifth and then delivered a rude lecture beginning with the words, “I don’t know how you do things in Los Angeles but down here….”
The second obvious question is what Crumley thinks the definition of “law enforcement officer” is. Sources have indicated to this page that they believe the shooter or the confessed shooter was a former local area cop. It is impossible to know whether Crumley thinks military policeman, uncover ATF agents, undercover ATF Tactical Field Officers and paid Confidential Informants, SOIs and other government agents provocateur are law enforcement officers. In fact, because Crumley communicates in a manner that is a kind of a cross between a Papal Bull and the Turing Test, it is impossible to judge whether he is even telling the truth at all. He is under no obligation to be truthful. Police routinely lie as a matter of investigative strategy and as a matter of “perception management.”
Crumley’s carefully worded statement that, “The deceased was struck by one round and died as a result of that wound” sounds sophistical. His statement may be very literally true. If Tipton was shot, say three times it is possible to truthfully say that he was struck by a bullet and that bullet strike as opposed to other bullet strikes was the fatal wound.
This page has been told and finds it reasonable to believe that four shots were fired, three or four of those shots struck Tipton in the face or head and one of those shots, the fatal shot was a shot to Tipton’s temple.
In the first, real, local journalism in the case so far, Derek Gilliam of the Florida Times-Union interviewed Zach Tipton’s mother. “Glynda Purdy said her son, Zach, was shot twice in the head,” Gilliam wrote. “She said a doctor told her that. Purdy said the gunshot wounds were behind his ear and another one to the temple. She’s angry and wants her son’s killer to face justice.”
Purdy’s account of the fight in which her son died was that: “The people left and came back and Zach was shot execution style. It doesn’t matter if they were policemen or not.”
You can read the Times-Union piece here.
The Iron Order
The Man who killed Zach Tipton was unquestionably affiliated with the Iron Order Motorcycle Club. The Iron Order was founded by a Secret Service agent as a law enforcement motorcycle club which should be obvious from the name. Most clubs, like the Iron Pigs – one of whose members shot a Hells Angel in the Loud American Roadhouse in Sturgis about six years ago – or the Iron Brotherhood – whose members beat-up a Moctezuma’s bar patron named Justin Stafford in Prescott about a year ago – are motorcycle clubs that exist for and admit police officers, prison guards, parole agents and bounty hunters.
The Iron Order loosened its membership requirements to include civilians in order to grow its membership as rapidly as possible. The Iron Order’s foundation myth states that it “was started by a few hardcore bikers in a garage on July 4, 2004.”
There are persistent rumors that the Iron Order includes ATF agents although The Aging Rebel hasn’t been able to verify that. It is a fact that the Iron Order now has about 3,800 members which is much larger than any other motorcycle club in the world with the possible exception of the Vietnam Vets/Legacy Vets MC.
The Iron Order has recruited heavily among active duty and recently discharged members of the military. It is attractive for men who want to “play biker” because compared to other three piece patch motorcycle clubs it is relatively easy to join. Consequently most clubs view the Iron Order as soft. A recent anecdote, which may be apocryphal, illustrates that: A patch holder in a one percenter club in one of the Gulf states took a club prospect to a gathering of about a hundred Iron Order members. The patch holder told the prospect to pick one and beat the hell out of him.
However, as the club has grown it has become increasingly confrontative. A comment made on this page today, by an Iron Order supporter serving aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt who identified himself as “Joey666” illustrates the careless and childish mindset of Iron Order supporters:
“Let me take a second to soak this BS in,” Joey666 begins. “A bunch of criminals and sheeple are upset because a certain MC doesn’t want to obey and follow rules created by a bunch of people who don’t follow societies rules and disrespect another man’s right to be free and do as he pleases? A lot of the 1%ers I meet are a bunch of pussies and won’t man up unless they are with their “brothers!” I’m active duty military who obeys the law of the land and I have plenty of friends who are cops, fire fighters, and veterans who are more of a man than most 1%ers. In my book there is no greater honor than to serve your community and I get pissed when people talk shit. Sure you will always have bad cops, but the majority are good guys who will look the other way for minor infractions and come to the aid to those in need. If you think snorting Meth or Coke, trafficking guns and drugs, robbing and stealing from people, and enjoy disrespecting and mistreating women then an Outlaw club is for you. I myself would have killed all four BPs without losing any sleep. He has grounds for self defense and sure shooting someone four times is excessive but let’s see how you feel when you get cheap shoted and then have 4 guys rushing you. The adrenaline is pumping and you have to protect yourself so in all reality he used pretty good restraint. Also BPMC is a well known support club for the Outlaws and proudly wear that “black diamond”. It’s like knowing you have a known murderer attacking you and you will do what it takes to protect yourself and your friends. You guys say man up and fight like a man but it takes four guys to beat up two people? How is this being a man? I am so sick of social rejects talking shit. How about for once you guys go make money the honest way and respect every man’s inherent right to exist and be free to do whatever he wishes as long as he isn’t violating anyone’s rights.”
The Biker Menace
What Joey666 and most Iron Order members and supporters seem not to care about, is that belonging to a motorcycle club like the Black Pistons is a way of being a man. Motorcycle clubs exemplify what the late Tim Hetherington called “Man Eden.” The social dynamics of outlaw clubs are most analogous to the social dynamics of men in combat. It is one of the few opportunities in modern life in which men may unabashedly love one another. The connection between combat veterans and motorcycle clubs explains why these clubs appeared after World War II, why new clubs formed and membership surged during and after Vietnam, and why club membership is growing now.
Brand name motorcycle clubs like the Hells Angels, the American Outlaws Association, the Warlocks and others have had to learn to mostly peacefully coexist since the Supreme Court’s Turkette decision in June 1981 – a new case law precedent that was first applied to prosecute Hells Angels in what at the time was a very hot and nasty biker war waged between the Angels and the Mongols Motorcycle Club.
“Life is hard,” one of George V. Higgins characters explains in The Friends of Eddie Coyle. “But it’s harder when you’re stupid.” The Iron Order, for reasons that are not yet entirely clear, deliberately tries to provoke members of other motorcycle clubs into doing something stupid.
The motorcycle club world follows a general protocol that arranges clubs into a hierarchy. Big, preeminent clubs make the rules for all the smaller clubs. One of the most basic of those rules is that each club shall wear distinct insignia, or as prosecutors call it, indicia. The Iron Order came out of the gate wearing black and white which brought them into immediate conflict with the American Outlaws Association whose members wore black and white long before there was an Iron Order. Outlaws hold their insignia with the same regard that patriots hold the American flag. Members of motorcycle clubs, as part of their code of honor, are compelled to fight for their insignia. The Iron Order has been contemptuous of the Outlaws’ sensitivities.
To join an outlaw motorcycle club is to cross a vast desert and find one’s own tribe. Joining a club doesn’t necessarily mean that the club comes to totally dominate one’s life but it is a life changing event. A member of a motorcycle club literally cannot refuse to defend his club’s insignia without losing all of the best friends of his life. The Iron Order is broadly seen as a mockery of that way of being a man.
The Iron Order has gone out of its way to try bully other clubs by exploiting its close relationship with police forces around the country. There are numerous examples of Iron Order club officers writing to police departments to explain that their club is a “law abiding club.” Then after arbitrarily claiming the moral, or at least legal, high ground Iron Order members go out of their way to provoke conflicts with members of more established clubs in order to get their adversaries to commit a crime like assault which the Iron Order then vigorously prosecutes.
For example, within the last year an Iron Order club officer relentlessly taunted a member of a one percenter club, invited the outlaw to a particular place at a particular time, showed up, got punched to the ground and then clung to the outlaws’ leg and screamed “I’m lawfully detaining you for the police!”
Let’s Meet Cgar
The author of this weird, passive-aggressive style of settling differences seems to be the Iron Order’s current International Sergeant at Arms, 44-year-old Lieutenant Colonel Michael “Cgar” Crouse. Crouse is currently assigned to the U.S. Army Reserve Command at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. In tape recorded and written statements, Crouse comes across as a stupid bully. In one conversation to which The Aging Rebel gained access, Crouse stated “I know our club has the advantage. One percenters won’t call the cops. So what the fuck, destroy any fucker that confronts you. It’s a free ticket….”
Crouse is a former military policeman who hasn’t hesitated to use his privileged access to classified and confidential information to harass and intimidate people he sees as enemies of his motorcycle club. Crouse used his military position to identify an Army Reserve member who was the author of a Facebook page critical of the Iron Order.
“Hello Dan,” the Army officer told the Facebook author’s voice mail. “This is you buddy Cgar again. Nope, I didn’t waste no money looking for your phone number again. Not one bit. You used to be military, right? You used to be at Fort Benning, right? Correction. For Polk, right? Yeah. We got connections. Just tell me where you’re at, man. (Unintelligible) will meet you. (Unintelligible.) Guess what, homey. You run a good mouth. Let’s see what you can do.”
“Hey Dan. This is Cgar again,” Crouse begins another message that is clearly intended to intimidate his club’s critic. “Thanks for the compliment. I appreciate you saying my asshole’s tight. That must mean you’re in love with me. That’s so cute of you. I’ll tell you what. You post on there (the Facebook page) where and when you want someone to meet you and I’ll arrange it for you. Missed you at the (unintelligible) event yesterday. There were a bunch of guys there looking for you. Looking for (unintelligible) and some other guys. It was cool. How about you tell me where you’re at and I’ll send somebody down there to meet you, too. In person and not over the phone.”
“Hey Dan. No need to hang up on me. I know who you are. Got your phone number. Know where you work at. Listen, you want to meet with some Iron Order members? Answer the phone when I call you back and I’ll schedule a place where you can meet ‘em. That way you can talk big in front of ‘em rather than on a Facebook page. It might be a lot better for you and a lot better for us to do that in person. Instead of writin’ stuff on the internet bein’ an internet keyboard commando. I’ll be callin’ you back later on today again. And again tomorrow. And the next day. Okay? Maybe eventually you’ll answer the phone.”
The transcription of these harassing messages hardly does justice to Crouse’s mocking tone. But even the bare words suggests an explanation of how Zach Tipton happened to cross paths with the still anonymous Iron Order member who shot him in the head and killed him.