September 6, 2002

Hells Angels member faces murder charge

Bill Morlin The Spokesman-Review
 

A ranking member of the Hells Angels is in jail, facing a first-degree murder charge for allegedly shooting a Spokane Valley man last year.

Ricky Warren Jenks, former sergeant-at-arms for the local Hells Angels, was arrested Wednesday evening after he was spotted by an off-duty sheriff’s lieutenant.

Jenks, 24, is charged with the shooting death of Lonnie Earl Taylor.

Court documents say the victim was making meth in a Spokane Valley home when he and the suspect got involved in a shootout that left spent shells all over the murder scene.

Jenks has been a Hells Angel for about three years, after earlier ties with the Aryan Nations as a neo-Nazi skinhead.

A warrant for his arrest was issued a week ago today after prosecutors reviewed a lengthy investigation headed by sheriff’s Detective David Madsen.

Jenks is being held in lieu of a $1 million bond set Thursday by Judge Tari Eitzen.

Authorities also are looking for his associate, Joseph D. Shafer, 20, who also is charged in the March 21, 2001, shooting death.

“Once a year it seems like they’re trying to do something like this to us,” said Richard “Smilin’ Rick” Fabel, president of the Hells Angels chapter.

“It’s kind of funny when they’re doing this just before the election,” Fabel said.

The Hells Angels president said he knew very few details and wouldn’t speculate whether Jenks would argue self-defense as he faces the murder charge.

Jenks and Shafer were wounded in a gun battle after they went to Taylor’s house while he was making a late-night batch of meth, court documents allege.

Taylor, a 37-year-old mechanic, was found fatally shot about 5 a.m. in a house at 1125 S. Robinhood in the Sherwood Forest subdivision in the Spokane Valley.

The homeowner, Layne N. Mayer, told investigators that Taylor came to the house and was making meth when the shooting occurred, court documents say.

About an hour before Taylor was found dead, Jenks and Shafer had been dropped off at Valley Hospital and Medical Center, both suffering from gunshot wounds.

Shafer’s 1972 Chevrolet pickup was found parked about five blocks from the residence.

Bullets recovered from their bodies later were matched to a 9mm Ruger semi-automatic handgun found under Taylor’s body, court documents say.

Bullets recovered from the residence and Taylor’s body were matched to two handguns found in the Spokane River near Boulder Beach, the documents say.

A receipt for the purchase of one of those guns, a Kel Tec 40-caliber pistol, was found in Jenks’ wallet while he was undergoing treatment for bullet wounds, the documents say.

In an ironic twist, the man who arrested Jenks on Wednesday supervises the sheriff’s Major Crimes Unit, which investigated the case.

Lt. Michael Myhre spotted Jenks in a check-out lane at the Rosauers supermarket at Five Mile Shopping Center about 5:25 p.m.

Myhre said he immediately used his cell phone to call for uniformed officers, while he watched the murder suspect leave the supermarket.

Leaving his wife behind for safety reasons, Myhre followed the suspect, who got into a minivan driven by a woman.

Myhre said he followed the van west on Francis, still waiting for back-up officers to arrive, and staying in touch on his cell phone.

The van turned south on A street, then went west on Eloika before stopping outside a residence.

“I didn’t want to make an arrest without back-up, but at that point he was about to enter the residence, and I had no choice,” Myhre said.

“It would have been a lot more difficult to make an arrest once he entered that house,” the sheriff’s lieutenant said.

So he drew his handgun and ordered Jenks to get out of the van and on his knees. Then Myhre handcuffed him.

In just a few minutes, a city police officer arrived at the scene.

Jenks was not armed, didn’t resist and said nothing after being advised of his rights, Myhre said.

“Sometimes it’s dangerous and scary, but, you know, I was just doing my job,” Myhre said.


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