On Saturday, May 27, Red River was bustling with bikers from across the country who were attending the 41st Annual Red River Motorcycle Rally. An unusually high number of Bandidos biker gang members were in attendance this year, as documented on social media by locals in Questa and Cerro.
Around 5 p.m. on Saturday, gunshots were heard at the 400 block of E. Main Street. People fled the scene and took cover while videos online show police running directly toward gunfire. A witness contacted the Questa del Rio News on Facebook to give her account as a witness. She asked to remain anonymous during our interview for the safety of herself and her husband who attend the rally every year.
“It was the most uncomfortable feeling, there were so many Bandidos, I would say thousands who were from not only New Mexico, but Texas and Oklahoma, too,” she recalls. “We passed a group who said ‘they know why we’re here’ and then a bunch of gunshots rang out between two different gangs. Everyone in the crowd started running and we took cover behind a log cabin. We helped a young couple get their stroller over, they had a baby with them,” she says. A traumatizing ordeal for the couple who attend the event every year.
The Questa del Rio News was able to speak with the Red River Mayor late Saturday night in an exclusive interview. Mayor Calhoun confirmed 3 people were killed and 5 were wounded and transferred to hospitals in Taos, Albuquerque, and Denver. She also confirmed a dueling biker gang feud led up to the shooting, while ensuring there was no known threat to the community.
A heavy police presence remained in place overnight in Red River and a mandatory curfew was imposed on the Town of Taos from 10 p.m. Saturday to 4 a.m. Sunday to ensure officers could adequately secure the Holy Cross Hospital in Taos.
The New Mexico State Police (NMSP) is the lead investigating agency and they held a press conference on Sunday morning, confirming the gang feud originated in Albuquerque over a photo. This situation spilled over into the weekend’s rally. NMSP confirmed the dueling gangs involved were the Bandidos and Waterdogs.
Officials also confirmed the three deceased individuals included Anthony Silva, 26 of Los Lunas and member of the Bandidos, Damien Breaux, 46 of Socorro and member of the Bandidos, and Randy Sanchez, 46 of Albuquerque who was a member of the Waterdogs.
Officials also confirmed the arrests of three injured gang members had taken place. The suspects include Jacob Castillo, 30 of Rio Rancho and member of the Waterdogs. Castillo is being held on an open count of murder. Matthew Jackson, 39 of Austin Texas is a member of the Bandidos. Jackson was injured and arrested for unlawful carrying of a firearm in a liquor establishment. Christopher Garcia, 41 of Texas is also a member of the Bandidos. Garcia was arrested for possession of cocaine.
NMSP also says there are three outstanding gang members who have been injured and not charged. They are a 53-year-old, 31-year-old, and 43-year-old and belong to either the Bandidos or Waterdogs.
The Village of Questa Mayor John Ortega issued the following statement on Saturday night, “I am following the developments closely out of Red River and the Village of Questa sends our thoughts and prayers to the victims and their families, and first responders, and the entire community of Red River. Questa Police, EMS, and Fire Personnel are safe and they’re working to keep Questa safe.”
The rally closed down on Sunday, May 28 and vendor permits were pulled by the Town of Red River, having to wrap up operations by 2 p.m. on Sunday. Mayor Calhoun issued a statement on social media late Sunday announcing a special town council meeting on Wednesday, May 31 at 1 p.m. Follow our social media for the latest updates on this developing story.