UPDATED Dec. 12: This story has been updated to reflect new information concerning the arrest of Brent Taylor, who was taken into custody Thursday afternoon by police following the initial arrests of the 11 other suspects the day prior.
ST. GEORGE – Investigators with the St. George Police Department, Washington County Sheriff’s Office, Homeland Security Investigations and the U.S. Marshals Service served arrest warrants Wednesday on 10 men and one woman, each affiliated with a local motorcycle club and each allegedly involved in a violent altercation at the One and Only Bar, located at 64 N. 800 East in St. George. One man is still at large.
“Some members of the motorcycle clubs acted in concert with each other and engaged in violent and tumultuous behavior that resulted in a victim being stabbed and suffering bodily injury,” the St. George Police Department said Thursday in a news release.
On Aug. 24, at approximately 3 p.m., members of the Eastside Motorcycle Club and the Brothers of Legion Motorcycle Club were involved in a physical altercation with two other men, Aaron Bergquist, a detective with the St. George Police gang unit, wrote in his probable cause statements supporting the arrests.
Two men were outside the One and Only Bar smoking a cigarette and talking while a member of the Eastside Motorcycle Club, apparently watching over the club members’ motorcycles, was nearby and overheard part of their conversation. The man allegedly interpreted what the two men were discussing as derogatory, threw his cigarette on the ground, “gave them a stare” and entered the bar, Bergquist said in the statement.
“Moments later, eight members of the Eastside Motorcycle Club, and three members of the Brothers of Legion Motorcycle Club came out of the bar and confronted (the two men) in front of the building,” Bergquist said in the statement. “A loud physical altercation ensued.”
One man was assaulted while the other man was stabbed and suffered serious bodily injury, Bergquist said in the statement. Both men stated it was difficult to identify which of the 11 aggressors committed the stabbing and caused the other injuries due to the fact that they were being assaulted by so many individuals.
“Witnesses at the bar then identified Zachery Babcock as yelling ‘Eastside, let’s roll!’” Bergquist said. “At that point, the altercation broke up, club members left on their motorcycles, and (the stabbed man) was taken to the hospital.”
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Those apprehended Wednesday were arrested on third-degree felony inciting a riot warrants issued out of the 5th District Court in connection with the stabbing – most of them having extensive prior arrests and criminal charges, according to Utah court documents. Those arrested were:
- Zachery Robert Babcock, 33, of Washington City. Babcock holds the rank of “State of Representative or President” for the Washington County, Utah Eastside Chapter, according to the statement.
- Austin Wesley Sharp, 22, of Toquerville. Sharp holds the rank of “President” in the Brothers of Legion, St. George, Utah Chapter, according to the statement. Sharp faces two additional third-degree felony drug and firearms charges along with a class A misdemeanor weapons charge. Sharp was also the victim of a shooting in August of last year. He was shot multiple times in the back with a .22 caliber rifle while riding his Harley Davidson in Cedar City. He was transported to Dixie Regional Medical Center in critical condition.
- Steven Perry Neal, 43, of Washington City. Neal holds the rank of “State of Representative or President” for the Washington County, Utah Eastside Chapter, according to the statement.
- Zachary Ross Humphries, 28, of Washington City. Humphries holds the rank of “member” for the Washington County, Utah Eastside Chapter, according to the statement.
- Ramsey Joseph Campos, 23, of St. George. Campos holds the rank of “secretary” in the Brothers of Legion, St. George, Utah Chapter, according to the statement.
- Scott Arthur Wells Jr., 30, of St. George. Wells holds the rank of “member” for the Washington County, Utah Eastside Chapter, according to the statement. Wells was additionally charged with a class B misdemeanor for concealing a dangerous weapon.
- John Thomas Benyo, 40, of St. George. Benyo holds the rank of “member” for the Washington, County Utah Eastside Chapter, according to the statement.
- Chase Edward Smith, 31, of Ivins City. Smith holds the rank of “Sergeant at Arms” in the Brothers of Legion, St. George, Utah Chapter, according to the statement.
- David Delmar Mangold III, 45, of Washington City. Mangold holds the rank of “member” for the Washington County, Utah Eastside Chapter, according to the statement.
- David Davenport, 43, of St. George. Davenport holds the rank of “Enforcer” for the Washington County, Utah Eastside Chapter, according to the statement.
- Heather Sheppick, 30, of St. George. Sheppick is a close friend/associate of several Eastside members, according to the statement.
One individual, Brent Taylor, 39, was originally reported still being at large Thursday morning. Taylor was arrested on a third-degree felony inciting a riot warrant that afternoon and was booked into the Purgatory Correctional Facility around 3 p.m. He is listed on the Washington County Sheriff’s Office most wanted page, though marked as “captured.” He made bail and has since been released from the jail.
All 12 individuals were identified in surveillance footage from the bar, just minutes before the fight ensued, Bergquist said, and multiple witnesses at the bar confirmed the 12 individuals were physically involved in the altercation.
“(The man), who was stabbed, identified Babcock from surveillance photos as being present in the fight,” Bergquist said. “(The man) stated that at some point in the altercation, he exclaimed that he had been stabbed, and identified Babcock as replying ‘Yeah, because of your (expletive) mouth!’”
“Both victims identified Babcock as the individual who led the group from the bar and instigated the altercation.”
Additionally, Sheppick admitted to detectives during an interview that she was present during the altercation, the statement said, and admitted to assaulting a man and woman at the bar.
The Eastside Motorcycle Club is a gang in the St. George area, Bergquist said.
“From my training and experience, Eastside operates in a consistent manner as other outlaw motorcycle gangs in the United States,” Bergquist said in the statement. “Membership in the organization is highly structured with leadership, rank, and responsibilities.”
Likewise, the Brothers of Legion is another motorcycle club in the St. George area that operates and is structured in a similar manner.
“We most certainly don’t approach any motorcycle enthusiast or ‘biker’ as a gang member or feel they are a threat to society in any way, shape or form,” St. George Police Sgt. Johnny Heppler said in a September interview.
If someone is a member of a motorcycle club, law enforcement does not automatically assume that they are part of a gang. It’s by their behavior or association that they align themselves with a nationally recognized outlaw motorcycle gang, then we approach it from a public safety standpoint and we act accordingly.
The Brothers of Legion Motorcycle Club issued the following statement on their Facebook page Wednesday evening:
You know, it’s sad when you’re part of something that does nothing but good. Just so we are clear people, the Brothers Of Legion MC is not involved in any illegal activities. We are not an outlaw club. We help and support tons of people/charities in our community. Just because we have a patch on our back does not make us bad people.
According to the club’s Facebook page, they are here to impact the community in a positive way.
Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.
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