Bill Morian, Jr. the Jasper, Texas lawyer who has become an official spokesman for the Bandidos Motorcycle Club, issued a brief statement over the weekend about the apparent murder of Kinfolk Motorcycle Club member Dusty Childress on March fourth near Abilene. Wesley Dale Mason, who has been widely assumed to be a Bandido, has been charged with Childress’ murder.
“Due to the tragic situation that has recently taken place in Abilene, Texas, the Bandidos Motorcycle Club has issued the following statement:
“The Bandidos Motorcycle Club is in no way directly involved with the death of Kinfolk member Dusty Childress. The Bandidos Motorcycle Club is not and will not be involved or be pulled into a war with the Kinfolk Motorcycle Club. The Bandidos Motorcycle Club does not have a political position for or against the Kinfolk Motorcycle Club.
“It is a sad situation for all families involved.”
The Kinfolk is a new motorcycle club. It was founded by a former Bandidos national officer named Dan “Chopper Dan” Schild and it now claims at least 170 members in 23 chapters in Louisiana, Texas and New Mexico. According to a Kinfolk spokesman, and an ex-Bandido, named Dennis “Buddha” Price the Kinfolk includes “predominantly ex-Bandidos” and “members of other clubs who have been kicked out. Everybody who comes gets a real, fair, genuine, second chance.”
Schild left the Bandidos after Bill “Big Deal” Sartelle became club president. Schild thought the job should have gone to him and when it didn’t he started his own club. Biker politics often result in hard feelings. The Kinfolk seem determined to confront the Bandidos in about the same way the Cossacks Motorcycle Club sought to confront the Bandidos. In numerous documents and social media posts, members of the Kinfolk have taken pains to portray the new club as a victim of the Bandidos. In a recent Facebook post titled “Is there a new Sheriff in TEXAS???,” a Kinfolk sympathizer who identified himself as “1% Anonymous” wrote:
“To push us, to try to control us would only become your nightmare. It would unleash the wolves that once guarded your thrones. The wolves that once gave you your strength and might. But now the wolves have a new master, they do their own bidding, and you shall soon see the wrath of our pack. You will hunt us, and we will stalk you and a few may fall. But the fangs and claws that once helped create your illusion of power and control, will now tear you apart. Piece by piece, you will be devoured in the name of our fallen brothers till nothing is left but a faint red and gold memory. And we will still be here. Once again at rest until the next tyrant awakens us. Our brotherhood and love will carry on for eternity as will our name. Some will call us friend, some even brother but all will know us for who we truly are. We are Kinfolk MC 1%er. The guardians of the old ways.”
To anyone who has seen the transformation of motorcycle clubs since the premiere of Sons of Anarchy, the Kinfolk’s rhetoric is reminiscent of both the Iron Order and the Cossacks Motorcycle Clubs. The Iron Order takes great pains to self righteously describe itself as a “traditional motorcycle club,” unlike all the other motorcycle clubs that have been playing by the same set of rules for the last half century. The Cossacks justified crashing a meeting of the Texas Confederation of Clubs and Independents at the Twin Peaks in Waco in May 2015 because they self righteously argued that the Confederation was a Bandidos extortion racket which the Cossacks were honor bound to confront.
One result of that confrontation in Waco was the eventual unsealing of a racketeering indictment against Bandidos which never mentioned Waco but did loudly proclaim that the Bandits had declared war on the Cossacks. The Kinfolk appeared about the same time as the federal indictment of former club president Jeff Pike and former club vice-president John Portillo.
In order to increase its membership as quickly as possible “the guardians of the old ways” motorcycle club established a set of very non-traditional rules for its new patch holders. The club rules start with an insult aimed at the Bandidos: “We are not like Bandidos. We are our own club and will not be run like a dictatorship.”
And they continue with rules that would make many patch holders of a decade ago wince: “We do not discriminate against former police officers.” “While we prefer American V-Twins the type of motorcycle is not important.” “If a member has his membership revoked, he will not be placed on no contact. There will be no out in bad standing. Either you are a member or not.” “Our prospective members will be called rookies, not prospects. Ingrain this in your brain.” “The order of receiving their patches will be as follows for rookies. Bottom rocker two months. Center patch four months. Top rocker and 1%er diamond after six months.” “You do not have to fly your patch if you feel you are in an uncomfortable area or it interferes with your job or position.”
Ironically, despite the Kinfolk’s unusual rules, the new club has been eager to portray itself as more aggressive, dangerous and masculine than the Bandidos. According to Price, the Bandidos are “evolving into a completely different group.”
And while the Bandidos see themselves as a club that is trying to keep its members out of prison, Price thinks, “The Bandidos have become a paper tiger. Look at the Waco thing. Years ago there would have been a bunch of quiet little murders in the middle of the night.”
All of this is the context that surrounds Childress’ death and this weekend’s extraordinary public statement.
Perception And Reality
The facts about the shootout that resulted in Childress death are more ambiguous than they have been portrayed by some reporters and commenters. Mason has been charged with murder and is being held in the Jones County jail until he finds $500,000 in bail. Police have said he “has ties to the Bandidos.” Police have also announced that two, unidentified eyewitnesses saw Mason get out of his pickup truck and fire “three to four shots” at Childress from a shotgun. Childress died from a shotgun blast to his torso.
Informed sources would neither confirm nor deny that Mason is currently a Bandido. He was a Bandido two years ago.
Lieutenant James Torres of the Jones County Sheriff’s Office told Brian Bethel of the Abilene Reporter that the gunfight was “biker gang related.” But Abilene is a comparatively small city with a population of about 120,000 and it seems at least plausible to think that the shooting arose out of a personal dispute.
Childress was riding his motorcycle just before he died. And although the easiest explanation for how he died is that Mason drove up beside him and opened fire, there are other plausible explanations. Childress did die of shotgun wounds but a total of nine shotgun rounds were found at the crime scene. A semi-automatic pistol and a shotgun holster were found near Childress’ body. Mason was wounded in the encounter and when police found his pickup truck, about a half mile from the crime scene, two of the tires were flat.
Both the police and members of the Kinfolk seem eager to portray the shootout as an act of aggression by the Bandidos against “the guardians of the old ways.”
The Bandidos took the unusual step this weekend of issuing a press release to deny that,