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The philosophy of the Iron Pigs Motorcycle Club, Seattle chapter, couldn't be more straightforward: to have fun.
"In our professions we are forced to deal with a lot of crap on the job; we don't need it when we play," says the Web site of the club, which is made up of Seattle-area police officers and firefighters.
But work and play collided early Saturday at a bar fight in Sturgis, home to South Dakota's annual legendary, Mardi Gras-like motorcycle rally.
Sturgis and Seattle law enforcement are investigating how an off-duty Seattle police officer allegedly shot a member of the Hells Angels motorcycle club about 1 a.m. Saturday. Four other off-duty Seattle officers were at the bar at the time of the shooting, according to a Seattle Police Department statement.
A crowd of 500-plus was jamming to the beat of rock group Judd Hoos at the aptly named Loud American Roadhouse when a number of Hells Angels members began to congregate in and around the building, said bar co-owner Dean Kinney. His employees called police just to play it safe.
"We didn't call the police because there was a fight; we called police because we just knew that it was different. We were being cautious," Kinney said. "We have almost no trouble at Sturgis. The people are so happy that you just learn to recognize when things seem a little different."
Kinney said he then heard two shots fired in quick succession.
"There were probably 30 officers outside when it happened, so the response was instantaneous," Kinney said Sunday.
A Seattle police officer was detained by Sturgis authorities. All five officers who were at the bar have been relieved of duty pending the investigation by South Dakota authorities, according to the Seattle police statement. Their names have not been released.
The Hells Angels member was being treated at a Sturgis-area hospital Sunday. The hospital would not comment on the victim's condition.
Sturgis police declined to comment on Sunday but said the department would make a statement on the shooting today.
Kinney said he had seen members of the Iron Pigs throughout the week.
"I didn't know until after the fact that their numbers are made up of police and firefighters," he said. "They were happy-go-lucky guys. They'd been in there throughout the rally and just seemed like normal guys that ride motorcycles and were having a couple of beers and hanging out. We didn't view them as any kind of outlaw motorcycle group. We had not had any trouble with them whatsoever."
It's not clear how many Seattle officers are members of the Iron Pigs club, which has chapters in 22 states.
When contacted Sunday, Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske said, "I am totally clueless about the club. We're going to stay with our statement."
The Iron Pigs' Seattle chapter home page was inaccessible over the weekend, though screen captures cached on Google showed at least six board members with nicknames such as Stoagie, Slim Jim and Kilo.
The club's philosophy page describes the group as "the good guys, on the job and off. We help the public." The Seattle Police Department's Web site notes that the group delivered 198 wrapped gifts to foster children last Christmas.
The group also appears prepared to stand up for itself. "If we are treated in a such away [sic] that shows us disrespect, or that violates the law, we will handle the situation in a lawful manner, keeping in mind our ultimate priority: preserving the integrity of the Iron Pigs M/C."
Karen Gaudette: 206-515-5618 or email@example.com
Staff reporter Nancy Bartley contributed to this report.