Three men were arrested Friday afternoon for shooting up a “family and friends event” called “Old School Bike Night” at a Pizza parlor in Pico Rivera, California on June 27th. The event was sponsored by a casual, family, motorcycle club called the Old School Riders.
Rudy Ruiz, 30, Christopher Johnson, 18, and John Perez, 43, were all booked on suspicion of murder. Pico Rivera is east of downtown Los Angeles. It is a small, poor city that has a reputation for violence.
Police told the San Gabriel Valley News that “all three suspects are believed to have ties to local gangs.” Police have refused to state any suspected motive for the crime. Five cliques are reported to exist in Pico Rivera: Old Pico or Pico Viejo; New Pico or Pico Nuevo; Brown Authority; Jardin or J13; and Rivera 13 or R13. In East L.A. the number 13 is sometimes understood to stand for the 13th letter of the alphabet.
Many people who live in the neighborhood where the shootings occurred have been reported to root for Rivera 13 but nothing is ever quite as simple as it first seems in Los Angeles. Only one of the alleged shooters, Perez, actually lives in Pico Rivera. Perez was taken into custody on June 30th for a parole violation. At that time a police spokesman said he was a member of a “Pico Rivera street gang.” Ruiz and Johnson were arrested Friday.
Nobody suspects that any of the victims was involved in anything criminal. The Old School Riders describes its members as “just ordinary people who enjoy the freedom of riding. No one represents any club. We are just friends and family who gather together and ride. Safety is our main concern for everyone who rides with us.”
Three men, cousins Garret and Tony Dandini and Carlos Carrera, died at the bike night. Seven people including three women were wounded. At least a dozen children attended the event.
The Police Fiddled
At the time of the shooting, Detective Joe Sheehy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau, speculated that the shooters might have opened fire on the wrong motorcycle event.
That night the Mongols Motorcycle Club held a heavily surveilled party at a restaurant on Foothill Boulevard in nearby Azusa. Agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and five local police departments gathered intelligence and confiscated club memorabilia there while the massacre exploded a couple of miles away. ATF agents drove to the shooting scene later that night.