San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan announced today that 17 defendants have been indicted by a grand jury for their roles in an attack on three men in Ocean Beach this past summer. On June 6, 2023, a group of outlaw Hells Angels motorcycle gang members and their supporters viciously attacked the young men on a public sidewalk.
The victims, all African American men ages 19, 20 and 21, were on Newport Avenue enjoying a night out. Virtually out of nowhere— possibly because one of the men spoke to a biker’s girlfriend— they were chased and attacked by several Hells Angels and Hells Angels supporters. They were repeatedly called a racial epithet and told they didn’t belong in the neighborhood.
One victim ran and escaped injury. Another victim was punched and kicked all over his body. The beating only stopped after he was sucker punched in the head and knocked unconscious. The third man was also beaten by multiple bikers and left helpless, curled up on the ground. Longtime Hells Angels leader, Troy Scholder, pulled out a knife, rolled the victim onto his side, and stabbed him in the chest, cracking the young man’s sternum. After trying to kill the victim, Mr. Scholder casually folded up his knife and walked away. The young man survived his injuries.
“In San Diego County, we cannot, and will not tolerate violence and racism of any nature, much less crimes like this hateful, vicious, and unprovoked attack,” said DA Stephan. “It is a testament to the cooperation and coordination of our law enforcement partners, working closely with our Gangs Division, that these defendants were identified and are being brought to face justice.”
The crime kicked off a large-scale investigation by the San Diego Police Department and the District Attorney’s Gang Unit. Deputy District Attorney Miriam Hemming and District Attorney Investigators Ross Umstot and Bryan Maddox worked relentlessly with SDPD to identify all the attackers and convene a grand jury. On September 13, after hearing six days of testimony, the grand jury returned indictments against 14 defendants for assault likely to cause great bodily injury— all with a gang allegation and 11 of them with a hate crime allegation. The grand jury added three additional defendants because the trio helped drive the stabber from the scene and back to the Hells Angels Clubhouse in El Cajon.
“These disgusting hate-driven attacks have no place in our community. There is no stronger way to condemn this violence than to hold the perpetrators accountable to the fullest force of the law,” said San Diego Police Chief David Nisleit. “We committed every necessary resource to track down and arrest each person who was involved in these wanton acts of violence. I want to thank our detectives who solved this case, our partner law enforcement agencies for their help, and the District Attorney’s Office for their tireless work.”
All 17 defendants were arrested on September 21. Law enforcement seized 42 illegal firearms, as well as illegal drugs. Arraignments occurred today for the defendants. If convicted of all charges, the defendants face a range of possible sentences from three years to life in prison. A readiness hearing is set for November 3 at 8:30 a.m. in Department 1102 of the Superior Court downtown. Trial is currently set for November 14 in Department 102.
Several agencies worked together on the investigation and subsequent arrests, including the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, El Cajon Police Department, Escondido Police Department, Chula Vista Police Department, La Mesa Police Department, Oceanside Police Department, National City Police Department and the Narcotics Task Force. The DA’s Office also received assistance from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
The Hells Angles are an international outlaw motorcycle gang with chapters across California and an active chapter in San Diego County. They gain strength in numbers by developing support or puppet clubs, including at least five in San Diego. The Hells Angels profit by trafficking in guns and drugs, as evidenced by search warrants executed last Thursday netting 35 firearms. In addition to running guns and drugs, the Hells Angels have been well-known to have a virulent streak of racism, demonstrated by their pervasive use of Nazi symbols and images.
In a separate case, the District Attorney’s Gangs Unit is also prosecuting a recent Hells Angels President for another unprovoked attack on a former Hells Angels associate at a crowded IHOP restaurant in Clairemont. That attack left the victim with broken bones in his face.