A year ago, about 11 pm on February 17th 2009, two men named John Lindeman and Brad Lutzow died in the parking of lot of a QuikTrip gas station and convenience store near 19th and Peoria Avenues in Phoenix, Arizona.
Lindeman and Lutzow were both members of a clean and sober motorcycle club named the Association of Recovering Motorcyclists (A.R.M.) They died in a brief, sudden, premeditated altercation with members of the Sober Riders Motorcycle Club. The Sober Riders is a well known clean and sober club with numerous chapters in Arizona. The fight escalated from a boxing match to a gunfight in about the same amount of time in has taken you to read this far in this requiem. Lindeman was dead and Lutzow was dying about 30 seconds after that.
Police found Lindeman where he fell, outside the front door of the store. He was declared dead at a nearby hospital. Lutzow was still alive when he was discovered in the passenger seat of a truck left outside St. Luke’s Hospital. Efforts to revive him failed. Both men died of multiple gunshot wounds.
Neither the Sober Riders nor A.R.M. wear a bottom rocker but the fight was still over territory. Arizona is not big enough for both clubs. Arizona, with a population of a mere 6.8 million souls, lacks sufficient numbers of motorcycle riding, recovering drunks and addicts to sustain chapters of both the Sober Riders and A.R.M. There can be only one.
Motorcycle clubs sometimes spontaneously combust in each other’s presence, like white phosphorous and fresh air. Clubs usually avoid public displays of violent hostility through an elaborate system of formal protocol. Two very respectfully regarded clubs in the west now feel disrespected and betrayed by each other, for example. For the most part, both clubs have been discrete. Yet it is essentially the same dispute that erupted into gunfire between the Sober Riders and A.R.M.
For the most part, law enforcement has no idea what these disputes are about or how they might be resolved. For the most part the general public has no clue that such disputes ever occur. By definition, the world of outlaw motorcycle clubs is outside the law and self-policing. Usually there is peace. Sometimes there is not.
Violent encounters between members of motorcycle clubs usually fall into one of two categories. Either they are essentially accidental or they are the result of grand and stupid delusion. The violent encounter between members of the Mongols Motorcycle Club and the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club in the Special Memory Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas in December 2008 was essentially an accident. The incident in June 2008 when five Hells Angels were attacked by eleven “pastors” of the Set Free Soldiers Motorcycle Ministry was the fruit of a grand and stupid delusion. The deaths of Lindeman and Lutzow was the child of grand and stupid delusions by both the Sober Riders and A.R.M.
Who Stupid Killed
Bradley Burritt Lutzow was 45-years-old when he died. He lived in Durand, Illinois where, in addition to A.R.M., he was a member of Alcoholics Anonymous and the Durand United Methodist Church. He earned his living as a machinist. He was a veteran. And he left behind a widow, a daughter, two step-children, both his parents, two brothers, a sister and seven nieces and nephews.
John Curtis (Unterseher) Lindeman was 43 when he died. He lived in Golden Valley, Arizona and he earned his living delivering papers for the Arizona Republic and dealing cards in Laughlin, Nevada. He had a rougher start in life than most people. His parents divorced when he was four and he had been a recovering drug addict since he was 18. And, like many people with a sad past he is widely remembered as having been a kind and caring man. He left behind a widow, two stepdaughters, his parents, his stepfather, his grandfather, an uncle, two brothers and sister.
Both of these men will be remembered for dying bravely. It is tragic that they both died 25 years before their time.
It is a tragedy like a long cold rain that continues to fall on everyone who was in that parking lot that night a year ago and on everyone who knows someone who was there.
Pax melior est quam iustissimum bellum. Pax vobiscum.