Angela Corey, State Attorney for Florida’s Fourth Judicial Circuit, may be about to file charges against the killer of Zachariah James Tipton. Tipton, a member of the Black Pistons Motorcycle Club was shot and killed by an unnamed member of the Iron Order Motorcycle Club outside Nippers Beach Grille in Jacksonville Beach last June 26.
The unnamed shooter was taken into custody by police and released within hours. He shot Tipton after apparently losing a fist fight to the dead man. The killer fired at least five shots. Initial reports said Tipton was shot multiple times in the face. After the shooting, members of the Jacksonville chapter of the Iron Order wore tee-shirts displaying the message “Be Aggressive And Shoot’em In The Face.” A member of the Jacksonville chapter named Andre Oleas made a photo of the tee-shirt his Facebook profile picture. Police later said Tipton died from a single gunshot to the head.
Multiple sources have described the shooter as a serviceman on active duty who lived in Middleburg, Florida and was stationed at Camp Blanding.
Stand Your Ground
After the shooting, John C. “Shark” Whitfield who serves as “Director of the Division of Legal Affairs” for the Iron Order as well as Nortonville, Kentucky City Attorney bragged to club members that he had “been in contact with law enforcement” in Jacksonville and had “offered” his “services” to them. Whitfield characterized the murder as a “clear Stand Your Ground” case.
The sometimes controversial Florida law states: “A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be, has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm.”
In an email to club members, Whitfield announced the Stand Your Ground “statute will be the primary avenue of defense should any legal proceedings against my clients ensue.” The fact that Whitfield used the plural “clients” rather than the singular “client” may indicate that he anticipated charges against more than one of the eight to twelve Iron Order members who were at Nippers that night. In a separate passage of the same email, Whitfield explained: “My clients in this situation are the IOMC and the brothers and prospects who may be close to this situation.”
Ray “Izod” Lubesky, a founder of the Iron Order who was previously a fast food executive with Cinnabon, Ponderosa Steakhouses and Papa John’s Pizza and who now runs a painting company franchise in Palm Harbor, Florida was the International President of the Iron Order at the time of the shooting. He described the homicide to club members as a public relations crisis. He wrote that Tipton’s death “is about crisis management at a time we are protecting our club, our prospect, and our brothers. This is our area of expertise. This is our responsibility. Your responsibility is to follow the sheet music, march to the drum and keep your mouths shut, both internally and externally. Only say what you are told to say.”