Relatives and friends of Zachariah James “Nas T” Tipton peacefully demonstrated outside the office of the State Attorney in Jacksonville yesterday.
Zach Tipton was shot and killed by a man widely identified as a prospect with the Iron Order Motorcycle Club on June 26 outside Nippers Beach Grille in Jacksonville Beach, Florida.
The State Attorney, a woman named Angela B. Corey is, as yet after a month, undecided about whether to charge Tipton’s unnamed killer with anything: involuntary manslaughter, assault, battery, invitation to affray, making false statements to police, disorderly conduct, littering, public urination, anything.
Corey was elected in 2008, two years after she was fired from her job as an Assistant State Attorney. She was appointed as Special Prosecutor after local police failed to charge George Zimmerman in the shooting of Trayvon Martin. Corey filed a charge of second degree murder against Zimmerman on April 11, 2012. A jury acquitted Zimmerman of the charge in July 2013.
Protesters Want Answers
One of the demonstrators yesterday was Zachariah Tipton’s sister Tina. She said, “Right now, we want the truth about what happened that night to come out. We want somebody to be arrested. We want justice to be served.”
Tina Tipton told CBS affiliate WTEV, “We feel like we don’t know anything more than the general public at this point and that’s upsetting.”
Another demonstrator named Holly Gravengaard told WTEV, “They (the family) are asking very simple questions and I don’t understand why they’re not giving up the name. Why they’re protecting him and his family and why they’re not concerned about this family.”
Tipton’s father, Jimmy Carter, told the television station that he thinks prosecutors are “going to give nobody no answers until this is over. Maybe an outpouring of support, people, will get the attention of the state’s attorney and at least give us the answers we need to have, you know.”
The State Attorney’s reluctance to charge the anonymous shooter with anything at all is curious. This is hardly the first fight between members of the Iron Order and members of traditional motorcycle clubs. For example, a brawl between members of the Wayne County, Georgia chapter of the Iron Order and members of the Long County chapter of the Wingmen Motorcycle Club in a bar in Jesup, Georgia on August 12, 2010 resulted in the arrest of eight members of the Iron Order two weeks later. The Iron Order members were Donald Crouch, James Smith, Ronald Spear, Joseph Savard, Anthony MacIntire, Billy James Armstrong, Charles Caldwell and Glenn Pond.
Crouch, a Hinesville, Georgia firefighter was charged with affray, a misdemeanor, and a Georgia felony called “unlawful acts of criminal street gangs.”
A single shot, which hit nobody, was fired in that altercation. According to multiple sources speaking on conditions of anonymity, multiple shots were fired during Tipton’s murder. So far, Jacksonville Beach police spokesman Tom Crumley has only said that Tipton died from a single shot to the head. He hasn’t yet divulged whether police believe multiple shots were fired or whether Tipton suffered additional, non-fatal wounds.
The fact that the man who killed Zach Tipton has gotten a pass so far may result from the Iron Order’s deliberate efforts to brand itself as a “law abiding motorcycle club.” The Iron Order counts numerous sworn law enforcement personnel in its ranks and its reach extends even into prison.
In a memorandum to all Iron Order members, club president Ray “Izod” Lubesky wrote, “Our brothers in the Shiprock, New Mexico chapter are all prison guards. They tell us the first thing that happens to 1%ers when they get to prison is they get their asses beat just to let them know they ain’t shit in prison.”
A Safety Bulletin issued by Okaloosa County, Florida Sheriff Larry R. Ashley immediately after Tipton’s murder illustrates the fixed idea the Iron Order’s calculated branding seems to implant in the minds of Northern Florida cops.
“The Iron Order M/C officers I met with wanted to get the message out that they ARE NOT a 1% motorcycle club, nor do they aspire to become one or to be known as one,” Ashley wrote the day after Tipton died. “Normally, at least in my experience and interaction with the club, they are LEO friendly and most wear a Maltese Cross as an indicator they are armed. Of the club officers I met with this evening, all are former LEOs with the exception of one – and he is an Active Duty First Sergeant affiliated with Security Forces. So. the information I received today came from a VERY RELIABLE source.”
The presumption underlying this investigation seems to be that the Iron Order is “a very reliable source.”