Documents: Christian bikers claimed link to Hells Angels

Associated Press/August 21, 2008

Newport Beach - A violent biker brawl may have started because the Hells Angels thought a Christian motorcycle ministry was claiming an affiliation with them, according to court documents made public Thursday.

The 52-page search warrant affidavit, filed in Orange County Superior Court, also cites an anonymous tipster who called police after the July 27 brawl and said the Set Free Soldiers were planning a "war party" at an abandoned chicken farm in Riverside County.

Two members had readied a "truckload of guns" there, the tipster told authorities.

Set Free's leader, Phillip Aguilar, and four other biker ministers were charged with weapons and gang felonies after the fight at a Newport Beach bar that ended in two stabbings.

Aguilar, 60, started his counterculture church in 1982 after saying he found Jesus while doing time in the state penitentiary for child abuse. His church, which prides itself on its outreach to criminals, drug addicts and biker gangs, has attracted thousands of members nationwide and operates several drug rehab homes around Southern California.

The brawl prompted police to raid the Set Free Christian Ministries compound in Anaheim, where they seized thousands of rounds of ammunition and dozens of guns and knives. They also raided Hells Angels homes in Costa Mesa and Rancho Santa Margarita.

Lloyd Freeberg, an attorney for Aguilar and his son, who was also charged, said the accounts in the affidavit were not true. He said his clients believe the Hells Angels attacked them because they had entered the bar, which the Hells Angels considered their turf.

Aguilar and two others plan to enter pleas of not guilty when they are arraigned next month. Two other defendants, including one member charged with attempted murder, are scheduled to be arraigned on Friday.

The brawl began when five Hells Angels met with Aguilar and two other Set Free Soldiers, according to police reports and the affidavit. During an argument, eight other Set Free Soldiers entered the bar and surrounded the Hells Angels, who allegedly began throwing punches.

Police have said they believe the Set Free Soldiers initiated the meeting and wanted to ambush the Hells Angels.

One Set Free pastor caught fleeing with a bloody knife in his car told police the brawl began when the Hells Angels' leader confronted Aguilar and told him Set Free had been claiming affiliation with the Hells Angels, the documents state.

The Hells Angel leader allegedly told Aguilar they were not authorized to take business from the Hells Angels.

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