It has been eight weeks since a patched member of the Black Pistons Motorcycle Club named Zachariah “Nas T” Tipton was shot and killed in a parking area outside Nippers Beach Grille in Jacksonville Beach, Florida by a member or prospect of the Iron Order Motorcycle Club.
Tipton was shot and killed at 5:15 p.m. Pacific Time on June 26 and The Aging Rebel became aware of the incident eight hours later at about 1:15 a.m. Pacific Time on June 27. The initial tip included a link to television station WJXT’s account of the shooting and stated:
“It’s been reported that a Black Piston is dead, shot four times in the face. The shooter is reported as an Iron Order douche. It was a fair fight and the IO decided to shoot the BP in the face four times. Just what our lifestyle (club, real clubs) doesn’t need is these fucking fools doing this shit. These muthafuckas need to fucking go!”
“Contact your sources, I’m sure they will verify those involved and the cowardly way the IO douche handled himself.”
WJXT and competing news outlets reported that Tipton had been shot four times and that the shooter had been taken into custody. The next morning on the phone, a police spokesman in Jacksonville Beach began what was to become an endless editing and revision of the first reports of the homicide. Jacksonville Beach Police Sergeant Tommy Crumley said there had been no arrests and that the apparent shooter had been released. Crumley declined to say whether the apparent shooter’s hands had been bagged and tested for gunshot residue.
A police bulletin issued by the Okaloosa County, Florida Sheriff’s Office about 24 hours after the shooting stated:
“Be aware as some members of law enforcement and the military are part of Iron order MC as indicated below. A ‘kill on sight’ order was issued by Outlaws/Black Pistons for members of IOMC. Be aware as MC traffic may increase due to upcoming funeral. The Iron Order M/C officers I met with wanted to get the message out that they are not a one percenter motorcycle club, nor do they aspire to become one or to be known as one. Normally, at least in my experience and interaction with the club, they are LEO friendly and most wear a Maltese Cross as an indicator they are armed. Of the club officers I met with this evening, all are former law enforcement officers with the exception of one – and he is an Active Duty First Sergeant affiliated with Security Forces. So the information I received today came from a VERY RELIABLE source. So far, what they have on the shooting in Jacksonville is as follows: Sometime on the evening of 6/26/2014, two IOMC prospects were accosted by numerous members of the Black Pistons M/C at a gathering in Jacksonville. A member of the Black Pistons was shot and killed. The IOMC shooter has been released without being charged, as the shooting has been ruled ‘self defense.’ Obviously this does not sit well with the Black Pistons and/or their affiliates, The Outlaws MC per info received this evening, there has been a ‘kill on sight’ order issued by the Black Pistons/Outlaws for any member of the IOMC. We have a pretty big contingent of IOMC between Navarre, Crestview, Florala, and Andalusia, not including their sister club, The Iron Rockets. Also, we do have members of the Black Pistons residing in our area, as well as members of The Outlaws.”
These initial accounts of the homicide, including news accounts that were based on statements made by the first policemen on the scene are straightforward even if they are sometimes contradictory. The mystery then, is why hasn’t anyone yet been exonerated or charged?
Last week Jacksonville State Attorney Angela Corey excused her continued silence about the case like this:
“We understand the Tipton family’s desire to have information regarding the Nippers shooting investigation. However, the State Attorney’s Office (SAO) has a duty to conduct a thorough review of all facts and evidence. In our conversations with the family, the SAO has notified them that specific facts and evidence cannot be legally released until the investigation is complete. We have also alerted the family that the review can take weeks or even months to finish. The information being requested by the family and the media will be released at the appropriate time.”
Obviously the appropriate time is longer than two months. This is what is known about the case so far.
The Cop Club
The Iron Order Motorcycle Club was founded by dissident members of a police motorcycle club called the Blue Knights, by a Secret Service Agent and by a former Outlaws Motorcycle Club hang around named Ray “Izod” Lubesky. Lubesky is the current club president. Most of America, probably including State Attorney Corey, is unaware of the cop club phenomena because very little has been written about it.
A criminologist named Mitch Librett who has taken a scholarly look at clubs like the Iron Order notices “striking similarities in self-presentation” between cop clubs like the Iron Pigs and traditional outlaw clubs like the Hells Angels. He notices that “the colors, slogans, and monikers adopted by the members are often indistinguishable.”
That is certainly the case with the Iron Order. Lubesky has candidly written that the Blue Knights, which has donated more than $7 million in goods and cash to charities like the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Toys for Tots and the Make-A-Wish Foundation, “conduct their clubs more like the Elks club with motorcycles.” Lubesky wanted to be part of something edgier, something whose members would be “similar in self-presentation.”
Lubesky and the other founders of the Iron Order wanted to create a club more like the Iron Brotherhood Motorcycle Club which made headlines last year in Prescott, Arizona. The Prescott chapter of that law enforcement club “assaulted patrons at a Prescott bar, and high-ranking officers tried to cover up the bikers’ involvement.”
Lubesky has written that he envisioned the Iron Order as one of those “law enforcement motorcycle clubs (where) there is a very fine line that separates them from the 1%er and other MCs. I consider these other law enforcement motorcycle clubs to be MCs because they follow the same traditions we do in the MC world. As Fat Man (an Iron Order founder) was describing this new club and its origins, I thought it was one of these hard core law enforcement motorcycle clubs. It sounded interesting to me.”
Law Abiding Motorcycle Club
The Iron Order’s “self-presentation” quickly brought the new club into conflict with the Outlaws and the Black Pistons. The Iron order has virtually been at war with the Outlaws since the club’s founding and the Iron Order and Lubesky have clearly embraced that conflict. In his book titled IOMC – Birth of a Motorcycle Club Lubesky gloats over numerous confrontations with the Outlaws. For example, in describing a fight with the Outlaws in January 2005 in which he personally participated, Lubesky writes:
“I was 4th in line to get to the fight…. Ice hit the first pile, jumping to the top of the heap to get the guy that still had the chair in his hands over his head ready to swing it into our guy’s head a second time. Ice stands 6’ 6” and weighs about 300 pounds of solid muscle. Played college football and served 27 years protecting the President of the United States, highly trained in hand to hand fighting. Ice hit the guy holding the chair with one punch to the side of his head and he was out. I went for the second pile and started grabbing one guy at time by the back of the neck and seat of the pants to pull them off the pile. An Outlaw jumped on my back as I was bent over and grabbed me around the neck, choking me. I couldn’t spin him off my back so I threw him over my shoulder on to the concrete floor. I heard his head hit the floor and saw his eyes for brief second; he had a blank stare and was out of the fight. I gave him a boot to the face for good measure and I went back to pulling guys off the pile. I don’t know why they came off the pile and didn’t start swinging at me but that’s what they did. They got off the pile and moved to a line away from the fight. The rest of our guys lined up to go the next round across from the Outlaws that formed an opposing line. When I got to the bottom of the pile, Chief was there, bleeding from his head profusely. He was wild. His eyes were crazy and he got up to start fighting with me. He didn’t know who I was and thought I was an Outlaw. I grabbed him around the chest and screamed at him ‘It’s Izod, it’s me, I’m here to help!!!!’ He was still wild and ready to start swinging again. Chief’s scalp was split and began spreading apart. I squeezed his scalp together to close the wound. The Fat Man came up to both of us and I handed Chief over to him. I turned to where I knew the Outlaws were lined up. Behind me was our club so I was in the middle of both lines in a sort of ‘no man’s land.’ I knew it was only the beginning and the fight was not over.
“The Outlaws started insulting us, giving us the bird and making puckered kisses to us, just egging us on. The Regional President of the Outlaws (Ed Morris who went on to serve 5 years in the federal penitentiary) stepped into the middle of both lines not far from me and yelled, ‘This is over now,’ and the Outlaw line began to break. It sure wasn’t over for us. We charged into them and they ran. It was almost a comical site right out of a Benny Hill comedy show if you weren’t in the middle of the mayhem. They ran out of every exit they could find and we followed. Ice cornered the Regional President of the Outlaws (Ed Morris who really never threw a punch), picked him up and shook him like a rag doll screaming 6 inches from his face, ‘This is how you want it you fucking moron? This is what you want? Then it’s on you fuck, it’s on!!!!’ Ed Morris stood 5’ 4” and weighed all of 120 pounds soaking wet. Then Ice joined in the chase for the rest of the Outlaws heading out the doors. We chased them into the streets; that’s how they fight. Hit and run. We didn’t run we chased them. We fought and chased the fuckers and that really confused the hell out of them.”
Although the Iron Order seems to have successfully branded itself as a “law abiding motorcycle club” that calls the police and prosecutes when it’s members get into a fight it simultaneously describes itself as aggressors. The Iron Order has a reputation for provoking confrontations and any investigation of Zach Tipton’s has to take that into account. It seems impossible that Angela Corey couldn’t know that.
Lubesky has explained the Iron Order’s penchant for confrontation like this:
“We have been asked many time by law enforcement, ‘What do you do this knowing you are going to have trouble with the 1% clubs and their support clubs?’ The answer to us is very simple. Ninety percent of our members took an oath at one time in their lives, either in the military or law enforcement, that said we would defend the Constitution of the United States from all enemies foreign and domestic. We took that oath seriously.”
Not everybody believes that the Iron Order is self-presenting as an outlaw motorcycle club in order to defend the Constitution.
Yesterday, speaking for the record, Steve Cook who is President of the Midwest Outlaw Motorcycle Gang Investigators Association said “members of the Iron Order seem to go out of their way in provoking members of other clubs and I think that doing so creates unnecessary problems.”
Numerous sources have told The Aging Rebel that at least eight and possibly as many as 12 Iron Order members were at Nippers Beach Grille, that they demonstrably anticipated the arrival of Black Pistons at Nippers and that they were armed in anticipation of the Black Pistons’ arrival.
Sources have said that Tipton and an Iron Order member got into a fist fight after Tipton was taunted. A limited number of people actually witnessed the fight. According to multiple sources Tipton knocked down his opponent, backed away and as he was backing away he tripped and fell down. As Tipton fell the Iron Order member stood up and drew a pistol and after Tipton had risen the Iron Order member opened fire. Numerous accounts say that either five or six shots were fired. A volley of three or four shots were fired then, after a brief pause, two more shots were fired.
Although the details of the fight have been withheld from Tipton’s friends and survivors, Ray Lubesky claims to know exactly what happened.
“Rebel,” Lubesky wrote, “I will be very happy to send you a written statement of exactly what happened that night, minute by minute supported by all the evidence, testimony, and video but only after the States Attorney’s Office announces its intentions in this case. Right now there is a whole lot of misinformation and lies out there. We can only ask that as a responsible journalist for the one percenter community that you say you are, that you please vet your sources, please try to confirm their statements with other sources, and wait for the real story to be released. Everything you have reported is wrong and it seems to get farther from the truth with every new version…. We do not want to interfere or disrupt the investigation or the judicial process. We want justice to prevail just like you do.”
Lubesky also told Derek Kinner of Folio Weekly “I can promise you no one went there to kill anybody. Nobody was looking for a fight. We had people inside and we had people outside. If we were looking for a fight, they would have been all together.”
Lubesky’s statement contradicts those of sources who were at Nippers that night and who have said that between six and eight Iron Order members did go outside to the scene of the fight before the gun shots. Lubesky told Kinner he had knowledge of the police investigation and that the police “are not hiding anything, they are not protecting anybody…. They want to make sure they get it right.”
Lubesky also told Kinner that if the shooter is charged the Iron Order “will fully support him in the courts, financially and morally.”
The issue of a motorcycle club’s financial support for a member charged with a crime, particularly murder, raises an interesting point of federal law. Doing exactly that has been charged as a predicate in federal racketeering cases against motorcycle clubs to demonstrate that those clubs are a coherent criminal enterprise.
The Aging Rebel has been told and believes that most of the Iron Order members “inside” and “outside” Nippers that night were never questioned by police. Sources have stated that Iron Order members left before they could be questioned. One source asked, “Why? I heard an awful lot of bikes going over the bridge that night.”
Police apparently detained almost everyone at Nippers that night who wasn’t part of the Iron Order and asked them if they had “seen” the shooting. No one seems to have asked the potential witnesses what they heard or what else they saw. While Lubesky claims to be in possession of “all the evidence” including “testimony and video” the police seem to have ignored basic leads.
For example, the police missed a repair to a motorcycle rim that sustained a bullet hole the night Tipton was shot
The name of the Iron Order member who shot Tipton has never been released. The police logic seems to mirror Jay Dobyns argument in his ongoing case against the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives: Which is to say that the shooter and his family would be in imminent danger of being harmed or murdered, his relatives might be firebombed, his female relatives and children might be raped by men with AIDs and the assaults videotaped and other darker horrors might ensue.
Two days after the murder, a source told this page, “the man who claimed he was the shooter was involved in the fight but was not the actual shooter. Probably because he is a former area PO he thinks he is more likely to get out of trouble…. Jacksonville is one of those southern cities run on the ‘good ol’ boy’ system. If this guy really was an ex cop in good standing he just might get off despite all the witnesses…” That lead proved fruitless.
Shortly after the shooting a commenter who identified himself as Iron Order member Bobby “Fatboy” Miller wrote on the WJXT web site, “First of all the shooter was not LE. He was military. There are some whom (sic) feel that because the IO does have LE and Feds in it’s chapters that we are a 100 percent LE MC. We also allow African Americans. Does this make us a African American MC? We allow military to join. Does this make us a military MC? Second of all he was jumped by the BP’s. This was not a random act. He (Tipton) was actually following orders from the officers to “hit the IO on site.” (sic) Now it is “kill on site.” (sic) If anyone on this thread knows anything about the true MC world (and I have read a few that do) they know I am correct. The dominate (sic) club in the area feels that unless other clubs bow down to them, pay them dues, join the COC, wear a support patch or “property of” patch and follow the protocol that they feel should be followed, then they shouldn’t exist. This is one of the main reasons for these type of altercations. Maybe Tipton just wanted to get his “Charlie” fast tracked and felt he could intimidate the IO prospect. The prospect was defending his right as an American to be able to join a club he wanted to and wear what he wanted to and not coward to a group whom feel it is wrong. So instead of trying to place blame on the shooter or the Stand Your Ground Law, maybe it’s time for the so called “dominate” (sic) club to wake up and realize that other clubs WILL exist. Other clubs will continue to utilize there (sic) rights as Americans and ride freely on the streets as they do. Never will they hear that the IO “owns” Florida. We don’t want there (sic) drug business, stolen bikes or however else they raise money. We want to ride, party and enjoy are God given rights as Americans. IOFFIO-MBBM”
That comment led this page to try to interview an Iron Order member named Jay Church. The Aging Rebel believes Church is a member of the Marine Corps as well as the Iron Order. This page has never stated that Church is the shooter but it has asked Church if he was at Nippers that night. This page also believes that there is or until very recently was an Iron Order member named Jay “Popeye” Church who is also a member of the Ashland, Kentucky Police Department and who is related to the Jay Church in Florida. The younger Church replied to a written request for an interview by saying, “Not sure what your talking about.”
But Lubesky apparently did. After reporting that this page believed Folio Weekly had asked State Attorney Corey if Church was the shooter Lubesky angrily wrote, “Jay Church is not the shooter. You involve an innocent man. The IOMC has no relationship with the police officer in Kentucky. Once again you drag an innocent man to the forefront.”
There is an interesting, if nonsensical, notion in classical philosophy called “Zeno’s Paradox.” Briefly stated, in about 450 BC Zeno of Elea told the story of why Achilles could never defeat a tortoise in a foot race after Achilles graciously allowed the tortoise a head start.
Zeno argued that common sense didn’t matter. Only logic. Before Achilles could run to the tortoise’s starting point he had to run halfway there. And before he could get to that halfway point he had to get halfway there. And before he could get to the new halfway point he had to get to another halfway point. And before he could get there…well it is an endless, logical regression and the message is that the ultimate reality is that the world is logically frozen and so nothing can ever be accomplished.
Zeno’s Paradox seems to have become the model for the advancement of the Nippers’ shooting investigation. Somebody should ask Angela Corey if she has ever heard of Zeno. Maybe she would have something to say to Zach Tipton’s family about that.