An American Hells Angels biker accused of shooting five people at Custer State Park, San Diego in 2006 told jurors Monday he would have been killed had he not fired at Outlaws Motorcycle Club members surrounding his truck.
Chad Wilson, 33, testified at the trial in which he and John Midmore, 35, are charged with five counts of first-degree attempted murder and commission of a felony while armed.
"If I wouldn't have shot back, they would have kept shooting me until I was dead," Wilson testified.
Wilson said he's from San Diego but previously lived in Seattle. He is a Canadian citizen and member of the Dago Chapter of the Hells Angels in San Diego.
Midmore, who lives in Indiana and Canada, has dual citizenship in Canada and Australia and is a prospect of the Haney Chapter of the Hells Angels in British Columbia, Canada.
Prosecutors said Wilson sparked the gunfight after waiting for a group of Outlaws at Legion Lake Resort. Wilson disputed that, saying he did not intent to kill Thomas Haas, Allen Matthews, Danny Neace, Claudia Wables and Susan Evans-Martin. He said he was in his white F-350 Ford pickup, with Midmore driving, when they stopped at the resort Aug. 8, 2006, on their way to a strip club.
Midmore smoked a marijuana joint on a picnic table as Wilson got some sun, then the two went into the convenience store without their shirts on.
When they were inside, a member of the Outlaws recognized Wilson's Hells Angels tattoos, so he tried to get back to the truck without being noticed further and wait for Midmore to return from the restroom.
Wilson said he could see the Outlaws gathering so he tucked a handgun in his waistband and put on a shirt.
"I was terrified. I wasn't afraid. There was nine of them and two of us."
When Midmore got back, he pulled the truck ahead to leave but was stopped at the exit by an Outlaws member who walked in front of the pickup and another who stepped behind. Wilson said he got out, walked around the rear and when Midmore pulled forward a few feet, Wilson said he found himself face-to-face with nine Outlaws members.
When one of them, Nathan Frasier, pulled out a handgun and dropped it, Wilson said he raised his hand, lifted his shirt and yelled "whoa" several times before seeing a flame from a gun by Outlaw Lon Baillargeon.
Wilson said he bent over, pulled out his gun, loaded a bullet in the chamber, stood up and started firing, then saw Frasier fire a shot.
"One thing led to another and I just didn't stop," Wilson said.
He got into the truck and Midmore took off. Wilson said he threw his handgun along the road, then discarded two other guns along a logging trail after concluding nobody was following them. The two abandoned the truck and were arrested that evening after asking an off-duty park ranger for a ride.
Wilson said he was afraid because weeks earlier at a Hells Angels event in Cody, Wyo., and then at Sturgis he was told that law enforcement officers had warned the club that Outlaws were targeting the rival group.
On cross-examination, Wilson acknowledged to prosecutor Michael Moore that neither man nor the truck was hit with gunfire and said it was a coincidence that he had guns in the truck and didn't know the Outlaws were camped nearby, 70 miles from Sturgis.
"I didn't expect to run into nine Outlaws in the middle of nowhere," he said.