There were three people in the Rogues Motorcycle Club clubhouse in Tulsa when it was shock and awed at dawn on April 9th.
One of them, Russell Doza, was shot between seven and nine times and killed. He was shot in the side and the back. Two of the shots entered his neck around the base of his skull. Now the United States Attorney in Tulsa is trying to put the two survivors, Scott Lee Sollars and Albert Dee Ahlfinger, in prison for ten years each. Sollars and Ahlfinger are charged with being felons “in possession” of firearms.
Neither man possessed a firearm as most of the English speaking world understands the verb “possessed.” American prosecutors routinely torture English as former President Clinton tortured English when he wondered “what the meaning of is is.” Sollars and Ahlfinger are being prosecuted because they belong to the Rogues and they were there when Doza was murdered. Sollars and Ahlfinger were in the clubhouse with Doza. And Doza was killed because he was holding a gun. So Sollars and Ahlfinger were in a house with guns.
Assistant United States Attorney Joseph Wilson told the Tulsa World that his office “routinely reviews potential federal gun prosecutions and that these cases were selected because of the overall circumstances.” Cynics probably notice that these cases are being prosecuted before the results of any investigation into Doza’s homicide are announced. One friend of the Rogues characterized the gun charges as a “joke.” It is not a very subtle attempt to intimidate the Rogues into shutting up about that fatal raid.
However, after a very long silence the arrest complaints and supporting documents do shed a little more light on what happened on April 9th.
Not Exactly T.S. Eliot
The affidavits that support the arrest warrants were written, or at least signed, by a Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent named Amy M. Kuhn. And, as is usually the case with these sorts of things the statements they contain are written in prejudicial and self-important cop-speak, which is the noise cops make when they want to sound important, professional and authoritative – like an actor playing a doctor in an aspirin commercial.
“On April 9, 2010,” Agent Kuhn begins her tale, “members of the FBI Safe Streets Violent Gang Task Force and Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office (TCSO) Drug Task Force executed a search warrant at the Rogues Outlaw Motorcycle Gang Clubhouse, 1826 North Kingston Place, Tulsa, Oklahoma. Due to considerable safety concerns, members of the TCSO Special Operations Team were requested to knock, announce, enter and conduct a safety clearing of the location prior to the execution of the search warrant. While an entry and safety clear of the location were completed…” Sollars and Ahlfinger were “removed from the premises” and not placed “under arrest” but merely “temporarily detained for (their) own safety and for the safety of the officers involved.”
Kuhn’s sworn statement includes the usual pro forma admission that these sworn statements always contain, which is that that some of what she swears is a true is a lie of omission: “I have not included each and every fact known to me concerning this investigation.”
The Two Search Warrants
For the last two months, the raid on the clubhouse was supposed to be a search for “marijuana and methamphetamine.” There were actually two warrants issued on April 9th. They are both state warrants.
One was issued by Judge Wilma Palmer 30 minutes before the raid. In addition to marijuana and methamphetamine it also authorized a search for: Instrumentalities, monies, records, financial records, proof of residency, drug notations and unexplained wealth from the sale of controlled dangerous substances, monies and or items consistent with the diversification of wealth, firearms, financial records and drug notation and residency papers. In general, this is language that is used to accomplish the seizure of all written, photographic, financial and computer records so police can copy them, add them to their accumulated “intelligence” and inspect them at their leisure to see what they can use.
The first warrant names a member of the Rogues who was not at the clubhouse and has not been arrested.
The second search warrant, issued after Doza’s homicide and after the clubhouse had become a crime scene, sought all the items in the first search and: Human bodies, DNA, blood, impressions, trace evidence, firearms, ammunition, bullets including spent projectiles, cartridge cases, explosive devices (and) literature or documents associated with explosive devices or materials.
Two additional suspects, a man and a woman, are named in the second warrant and neither of them was in the Rogues clubhouse that morning either.
Fruit Of The Second Warrant
The only occupants of the clubhouse that morning were the two men charged this week, Ahlfinger and Sollars, and Russell Doza. Immediately after Doza’s murder an FBI Agent named Charles L. Jones questioned both survivors about the location of any weapons in the clubhouse. Neither man was Mirandized and both men cooperated fully with police. Both of them had just heard gunshots from inside the house and were obviously eager to prevent bloodshed.
Sollars told Jones he believed guns “might be” in the residence. Ahlfinger told the FBI Agent that he knew there was a shotgun behind the bar and that because he was a felon he never went behind the bar where the shotgun was kept. Ahlfinger also said he thought there was a gun in a locked safe in the house and that he thought there were probably numerous pocket knives in the house but no explosives.
Both warrants authorized a search for firearms. Implicit in Kuhn’s affidavit is the allegation that neither the FBI nor the TCSO knew who was in the house at the time of the raid because they had to ask. It is more likely – unless this is the worst FBI Field Office ever – that the police knew exactly who was in the house when the raid was conducted; that an informant knew the exact location of at least three of the firearms and may even have planted one of them in the clubhouse himself; and that the point of conducting the raid then was to contrive the charge with which Sollars and Ahlfinger have now been arraigned.
Both men were arrested on state felony gun possession charges the day of the raid. The arrest report states that guns were “accessible to all subjects in the house.” The state charges were dismissed earlier this week when the same charges were filed federally.
The four weapons recovered from the club house were the Harrington and Richardson 12 gauge shotgun Ahlfinger told Jones he could find behind the bar; a TEC DC9 ghetto blaster; an “SKS 7.62 rifle” which describes a broad range of bolt action and semi-automatic weapons but probably is meant to describe an antique, five shot, bolt action rifle; and a “Cobra Firearms .22 caliber handgun” which describes a very narrow range of firearms.
Cobra makes two .22 caliber handguns. One fires .22 magnum rounds and the other fires .22 long rifle rounds. They are both derringers. The guns are specifically marketed to bikers as self-defense weapons. The Cobra web site describes them as follows:
“Derringers have more than 100 years of popularity and they continue to top the charts in sales today! From the Cowboy Action Shooter to the Harley Davidson rider, there’s a Derringer to fit your personality. Even Grandma likes a little Derringer in her purse. Cobra Derringers are beautifully handcrafted with a wide range of calibers and barrel lengths.”
Actually they are all between three and a half and about four inches long, cost about $150 and are not very good guns. A common complaint is a heavy trigger. Another common complaint is that the trigger just falls out of the frame. Bikers like to carry them and sometimes brandish them but they are very rarely fired.
It is beginning to look like this will be the gun that investigators will try to put in Russell Doza’s hand when he was killed.
The derringer might very well be connectible to Doza. He had a legal right to own a gun. There may not be a record connecting him to the weapon and it might still have been his gun. He might have bought it in a private transaction. Or it might also have been a “throw down gun” carried by one of the police officers on the scene.
…In Doza’s Hand
The official account of Doza’s death has always been that three Swat officers found Doza asleep on a floor and he picked up “a handgun,” intending to murder them. So they killed him in self defense. But that account has never rung true. One of the reasons for the long official silence is that is that the official account has been flawed with obvious inaccuracies from the time is was first recited to reporters. For example, Doza was not lying on a floor. He was in a bed in a bedroom.
Russell Doza’s hearing was very impaired. He was not quite deaf but he wore hearing aids and he used closed captioning when he watched television. That explains how he was able to sleep through the Swat raid. If he had known that a commando team had invaded the clubhouse he would have undoubtedly acted exactly as Sollars and Ahlfinger acted. He would have cooperated. But he was awakened and as he started to roll over he was shot. The top secret forensic evidence is fairly clear about that even if it is too dangerous for the Tulsa World to report. He was sleeping on his stomach, as he always slept, and he never had time to roll all the way over.
So the gun that was “observed in plain sight” that Doza is supposed to have brandished at his killers was either a bolt action rifle, a TEC 9 or a derringer. And, no one who knew Doza has ever described him as the sort of a man who sleeps with a TEC 9. So the most likely weapon that police can put in Doza’s hand is a tiny, inaccurate, shoddy, .22 caliber, single action, two shot pistol.
It will be interesting to read the cop-speak description of how threatened three cops in body armor felt when they saw that tiny gun – if there ever is a publically accessible official report. But the description of the great derringer danger will hardly be the most interesting passage. The interesting part will describe the five seconds before that.
Nobody knows exactly what happened in that bedroom that morning except the three shooters. But for almost two months there has been a consensus of informed speculation about what probably happened.
Apparently, this informed reconstruction of events goes, the three Swat officers rushed into Doza’s room. Roc Doza was sleeping so soundly the Swat commandos walked right past him. Then they decided the room was clear and turned to go. They might have decided to poke around before they left or they might have just turned to go. They might have finally noticed Doza at that second or the next. They might have laughed at the sleeping man and poked him in the back with the muzzle of one of their guns. They might have pulled the covers down from around his head with one of their guns.
And, that was when Doza awoke. Or, maybe they never saw him until he awoke. It was a dimly lit room and as he rose to see what was going on he might have looked like a Haji who had been lying in ambush in the desert sands. He might have awakened with a start but whatever he did he scared at least one of the cops. One cop fired first then they all fired and Doza was dead.
And then somewhere either the derringer or the TEC 9 appeared. Finding, or planting, it does not matter, the gun would have given the shooters the out they needed. Finding a gun allows the cops to claim self defense.
It would probably be easier to put the derringer – rather than the TEC 9 – in Doza’s hand because it is a kind of gun commonly carried in the biker world. But then, putting the derringer in Doza’s hand raises the most haunting question of all. In the dimly lit room they saw the derringer but they did not see Doza. They saw the four inch gun. They did not see the six foot man.
They did not see Doza but they saw the derringer in his hand. And then, acting in great fear for their lives, they killed him.