Death in the Brotherhood

Written by Jimmy Magahern Category: Valley News Issue: July 2015
Group Free

Who killed Cave Creek Hells Angel Patrick Eberhardt? There are some striking theories on the street.

If you want to understand outlaw-biker culture, forget binge-watching Sons of Anarchy. Just watch the 7-minute video of the funeral procession for second-generation Hells Angel Patrick Eberhardt, son of the motorcycle club’s Cave Creek chapter president, “Spa Bob” Eberhardt. Just a month after celebrating his 23rd birthday, the younger Eberhardt was shot dead on the streets of North Phoenix by a still-at-large assailant on a Saturday night last February.

The video captures hundreds of motorcycle riders, many wearing the HA’s trademarked death-head patch and red-and-white colors, riding in a slow, stately procession up Grand Avenue to the strains of Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters.” The take-away: Motorcycle clubs, also known as MCs, are intensely disciplined and loyal. They’re also impenetrable, talking to media little and law enforcement less.

Which perhaps explains why The Last Ride of Patrick Eberhardt is about all you’ll find on the Internet regarding Eberhardt’s shooting, despite its obvious newsworthiness. As the recent biker shootout in Waco, Texas conclusively demonstrates, feuds between outlaw-biker MCs have a way of escalating into blood baths – a not-outlandish possibility in the Valley, given previously-undisclosed details about the Eberhardt shooting uncovered by PHOENIX magazine.

According to a confidential source with close ties to the Arizona Hells Angels, Eberhardt’s killers were members of a rival MC. “[The Angels] know exactly how it happened and exactly who did it,” the source says, quoting two “full-patch” HA members.

The version of the shooting offered by the source is largely corroborated by a Phoenix Police report obtained by PHOENIX magazine. According to the report, an officer arrived at the scene near 15th Street and Bell Road to find two men on the ground: Eberhardt, wearing his HA colors, who was pronounced dead on the scene from two gunshots to his left side; and Stephen Calloway, a “hang-around,” or a potential prospect of the club, who was treated at a nearby hospital. Police interviewed four other bikers at the scene, who were all identified as members of California chapters of the Hells Angels, but none of them claimed any knowledge of what happened.

The report notes that earlier in the day there had been a shooting near 30th Street and Thomas Road in which unidentified bikers – possibly Hells Angels, though that detail is not spelled out in the report – fired shots at members of the Mongols, a longtime HA rival club with chapters in Phoenix and Mesa, and that one of the two unnamed suspects in the ongoing investigation into Eberhardt’s death is a Mongol member. According to the report, there was some “traffic-related” contact between the Hells Angels and the suspects riding in a car along Bell Road shortly before the shots were fired.

The shooting has likely placed the Arizona Hells Angels at a philosophical crossroads. Within the outlaw-biker community, Arizona is known as Hells Angels territory, and the club has gone to war with interlopers in the past – most recently in 2010, when members of the Hells Angels Skull Valley chapter and a rival club called the Vagos traded nonlethal gunfire near Prescott. But retaliation carries a price, as the 170 indictments handed down in the wake of the Waco shooting – which resulted in nine deaths – demonstrate.

It’s relevant to note that one of the clubs involved in the Texas melee, the Cossacks, are HA-affiliated – and were allegedly making a push for territory prior to the shootout.  

Phoenix Police declined to comment on the Eberhardt murder investigation, and the lack of an arrest has left some observers feeling dubious about a legal resolution. “This murder will never be solved,” says Donald Charles Davis, L.A.-based author of Out Bad – which depicts the battles between the Mongols and law enforcement – as well as the popular biker blog The Aging Rebel. “Unless they have an undercover ATF agent patched inside the Mongols or prospecting the Hells Angels – which, to the best of my knowledge, they don’t – I just don’t think anybody’s going to talk on this.”

Davis has another theory as to why the investigation may be languishing – a theory that jibes neatly with the outlaw-biker world’s institutional paranoia of all things law enforcement. After posting a brief story on his blog about Eberhardt’s murder, an anonymous reader left the comment “Payback is a bitch,” which Davis believes was meant to bait rival clubs into a turf war. Davis tracked the source of the post to a private server in Frankfurt, Germany that he says was used in the past by ATF agents as a “honeypot” to lure Al-Qaeda militants. Davis has a hunch the shots may have actually been fired by members of the Iron Order Motorcycle Club, a “law-abiding” club composed largely of off-duty cops and military officers with three Phoenix chapters who would have access to government assets like the Frankfurt server.

“To some extent, the Iron Order serves the purpose of a quasi-state agency,” he says. “They create incidents that allow the police to entrap and prosecute other motorcycle clubs.” Members of the North Phoenix Iron Order did not respond to interview requests.

It’s a far-fetched theory, but Davis believes a reprisal shooting is far-fetched, too.

“Motorcycle outlaws are actually more disciplined than most grown men,”  Davis explains. “The military influence really comes into it. They fight duels over matters of honor... But as far as conspiring to kill somebody? That’s increasingly rare, just because they’re under so much heat and surveillance. It’s tough to get away with.”