The back glass that was shot out by alleged members of the "Pride Riders" in Weatherford, Oklahoma.
More evidence of bullet holes in the company truck that was shot at multiple times, by alleged members of the "Pride Riders."
By Andrew W. Griffin
Red Dirt Report, editor
Posted: July 18, 2012
OKLAHOMA CITY – It was late Sunday night, July 1, 2012, when land surveyors James and Charlie* left a restaurant in Weatherford, heading back to the trailer park where they were living as they spent time in the area working for a surveying company.
The duo – James from Arkansas and Charlie from eastern Oklahoma – had been in town for months and had not experienced any trouble from anyone in the area. Most of their work was in neighboring Blaine County and Weatherford was simply the biggest town in the area.
So, when the events of July 1st unraveled, the two men were left bewildered and shocked that they had been the target of a suspected gang initiation, a company truck peppered with 7 bullet holes and a close scrape with serious injury or death.
Not that local law enforcement is suggesting that. Initially, the Weatherford Daily News reported that the shooting was “a running gun battle between two factions” when it turns out that Charlie and James were the victims and the people in the Escalade were out for blood.
Red Dirt Report first learned of this story from a senior manager* with the land surveying company. He explained that as they were driving westbound on I-40 business in Weatherford, a “cream-colored Escalade” backed out on to Main Street and nearly hit Charlie and James in their company pickup. They swerved to avoid the Escalade and continued on down the road.
But that was when the adrenaline-pumping horror began to unfold. It was explained to RDR that Charlie noted that Escalade was closely following them. He began turning this way and that, trying to lose the vehicle. They headed to their trailer park but the Escalade pulled in front of them and wouldn’t let them in. They then tried an evasive maneuver, right after a female passenger in the Escalade hung out the window, cussed at them and threw a beer bottle at the back glass of the crew truck.
“They gunned it out of town (heading north) on (Highway) 54 out of town towards Thomas,” the land surveyor company manager said. “The driver and passenger (Charlie and James) are scrunched down in their seat and they get five-to-eight miles out of town.”
All the while, shots are ringing out as the Escalade is right on the tail of the terrified surveyors in the pickup. Eventually they could not drive any further because a tire had been shot out. James and Charlie managed to pull off and hide in the underbrush along the highway. They called the police as they hid and by that time the gun toting gangstas in the Escalade were long gone.
When Red Dirt Report talked to James, he said that after the police arrived he was told that they were to “stay low” and that “it’s the Pride Riders” and “it was maybe an initiation.” A decal on the Escalade reportedly said “Pride Rider.”
James also said he was told about an AR-15 being found by police and that a 45-caliber handgun was used to shoot the truck. Seven holes in all, including a shot out rearview mirror and back glass. The two surveyors sustained minor injuries from the flying glass.
Said the surveyor company manager: “They are lucky to have not been seriously injured or killed in this ordeal. Dammit man, can you imagine?”
Red Dirt Report wanted to learn more if this incident was somehow gang-related. We spoke with Custer County Sheriff Bruce Peoples and he explained that the three people in the truck – John Arriga, 27, his wife Amanda Arriga, 22, and Jose Cervantes, 21, began chasing the two men “when they threw a cup of soft drink onto their vehicle parked on Main Street in Weatherford.”
But talking to both James and the company owner, they deny a soft drink cup was ever thrown at them. The attackers also claimed that James and Charlie had tried to start something by revving the engine of James’ Mustang. James denies he ever drove his car that day and wasn’t even sure how Arriga would even know what car he drove.
The Arrigas and Cervantes were later arrested and jailed after Oklahoma Highway Patrol and the Custer County Sheriff’s Office tracked them down. As reported in the Weatherford Daily News on July 5th, People said when Custer County investigators found the cream-colored Escalade “it contained a loaded AR-15 assault rifle.” A pistol was also recovered in a business on Main Street. They are seeking to charge those involved with using a vehichle to discharge a firearm (drive-by shooting law). Those charges can lead to two years to life in prison. Red Dirt Report was also told by a source that an A50 machine gun was also found, but we have not confirmed that.
Peoples said he knows people suspect the Pride Riders are a "Mexican gang." He emphasized that they are not. The Pride Riders are simply a motorcycle-type group and that “these individuals have assumed their identity.”
Added Peoples: “We have no information about any organized gang activity. They haven’t established any territory or warring colors.”
So, what do the Pride Riders do and what goes on at the “old filling station” in Weatherford where they allegedly hang out?
“It’s a group of people with the same goals,” Peoples said. What are those goals? Peoples said: “No one knows.”
And for Peoples, the investigation is completed. It is now in the hands of the Custer County District Attorney’s office.
Looking for more information on the idea that a gang may have infiltrated Weatherford, we spoke with Weatherford City Attorney David Duncan.
Duncan said that due to Weatherford’s location along a busy interstate like I-40, most troublemakers are from out-of-town. As for the alleged “Pride Riders,” Duncan told Red Dirt Report that “sometimes what you have are wannabe gang members.” Typically, he said, they are “late teens, early 20’s” and they want to act like gangbangers.
“Very rarely do we have any serious crimes committed in Weatherford,” Duncan said.
In the meantime, James and Charlie are still working in the area and are unsettled by the idea that some of those involved in their attempted murder are still out on the streets of Weatherford.
And it is not entirely unheard of to have Mexican gang crime in Oklahoma, usually linked to drug trafficking. In fact, this very week there was a large bust of a Mexican methamphetamine network operating in central Oklahoma. As The Edmond Sun reported: “This network was considered a major supplier of meth throughout the (Oklahoma City) metro area.”
As of Wednesday afternoon, we have learned that only one of the people involved in the drive-by shooting has been officially charged. We have left a message for Custer County District Attorney Dennis A. Smith to comment on details of this story. We hope to have more to this story in an follow-up story.
*Their full identities have not been used in this story out of concern for their safety.
Copyright 2012 Red Dirt Report
The rearview mirror in the truck was struck by one of the bullets fired by the shooters allegedly with the Pride Riders.
Bullet holes are visible in the tailgate and the license plate.