Law enforcement officers, including the CHP and FBI, were staged Saturday afternoon in Santa Rosa in what appeared to be a raid targeting motorcyclists gathered at the Wagon Wheel Saloon. A related search by officers focused on a home in southwest Santa Rosa.
The operation included the detention of riders and seizure of motorcycles. About 12:30 p.m., Santa Rosa police issued a public notice advising people to avoid Mendocino Avenue between Administration Drive and Bicentennial Way as a heavy law enforcement presence descended on the bar in northern Santa Rosa. The road was reopened by 2 p.m.
Witnesses said numerous officers from multiple agencies appeared to target for detention a large group of motorcyclists, including some who had gathered at the bar before a planned ride.
Multiple riders in front of the bar Saturday were seen wearing vests with Hells Angels patches on them. The Hells Angels Sonoma County website listed an event, billed as the “Red White Sonoma County End of Summer Run,” scheduled to start Saturday at the Wagon Wheel.
Additionally, FBI officials were seen surrounding a home in southwest Santa Rosa, where they reportedly used concussion grenades in a home search that an FBI spokesman confirmed was related to the raid at the saloon. The residence was off Antelope Lane near the intersection of Arabian Lane.
Roughly a dozen FBI agents were there around 3 p.m., wearing camouflage and bulletproof vests and carrying guns. A Santa Rosa Police detective was also at the scene to assist with what he described as an FBI case. FBI agents on the scene refused to comment.
As agents searched the Antelope Lane home, a man who said he lived at the residence sat outside on a fire hydrant. The man, who refused to identify himself, was not taken into custody.
One witness at the Wagon Wheel incident said he rode down from Fort Bragg today with a group of about 10 fellow motorcyclists for the event. As riders were outside the bar “starting up their bikes” and getting ready to head out, a swarm of law enforcement appeared, he said.
“They just surrounded the place and wouldn’t let anybody go anywhere,” said the rider, Dan, who would only give his first name. Eventually, officers allowed some bikes to leave, a few at a time and the rider was able to leave, though he was separated from the rest of his group, he said.
Another witness who declined to provide his name for fear of his safety said he pulled over near the Wagon Wheel about 1 p.m. and saw in the area at least two dozen law enforcement officials, including CHP and FBI representatives with kevlar helmets and bulletproof vests as well as police dogs. He said he saw authorities confiscate Harley-Davidson motorcycles and load them into a truck.
“You could see them bringing out motorcycle after motorcycle,” the second witness said. “This was all a big, preplanned thing.”
A Wagon Wheel bartender who refused to provide his name said there were no shots fired during the incident in that area.
“All it did was ruin a perfectly good afternoon,” he said.
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