Grieving club members say they’re not a gang

By Katherine Wartell

Approximately a month after the murder of one of their members, the Assassin Street Rydaz continue to mourn Frederick Beverly’s death, finding new ways to carry on his memory. But, members said, the shooting has also brought negative attention to the club, which, they say, is often treated as a gang.

Beverly was shot in a drive-by shooting outside of the Assassin Street Rydaz clubhouse at 1827 Fair Lane on Jan. 1. Riley County police arrested Fort Riley soldier Daniel Parker, 25, Junction City, in connection with the murder days later, stating that the shooting followed an alleged argument at a local bar.

Members said they didn’t know Parker prior to the alleged incident, and they said they have been shunned following the incident.

The most recent fallout, members said, is having to find a new space for their clubhouse after their landlord revoked their lease and being told they can’t wear their motorcycle attire, particularly their club vests, into certain Aggieville bars.

Bruce Chatfield, vice president of the club, said, “elbow grease, sweat and tears,” went into making the clubhouse their own and that it’s been difficult finding a new space.

He said it had taken members over a year to make the building look like a clubhouse, and that they had recently painted over their changes in preparation of moving out.

Their landlord, Lisa Noble, who owns Noble Racing, 1723 Fair Lane, declined to comment.

But Brandon Koberna, a member of the club, said they will eventually find a new place.

“Freddy definitely loved that clubhouse,” he said.

Taj Keeler, president of the club, said the 16 members, who he called his “band of brothers,” would meet twice a month at the clubhouse to “shoot the breeze” and catch up with each other.

Chatfield said members also meet on the weekends in Aggieville, but that recently their outings haven’t been quite the same because they are unable to wear their club vests into their usual bars.

Although Last Chance Saloon is the only bar with clear signage prohibiting “biker attire,” Chatfield said they have had problems entering Tubby’s Sports Bar and Kite’s Bar and Grill wearin their biker vests.

Tubby’s Sports Bar has a dress code listed on their windows, it does not expressly prohibit biker attire, and management declined to comment on the situation, only stating they have been in contact with club members.

But Chatfield said they’d been wearing their vests in bars all summer and that it has only become an issue after the shooting. Members of the club have acknowledged that the alleged argument with Parker that preceded the shooting took place in an Aggieville bar, but said that is no reason to enact new dress codes.

“There’s at least two or three bar fights every night,” Koberna said, adding that if it had been between fraternity members, no one would think of subsequently banning them from wearing their letters.

But Koberna and Chatfield said their vests, which feature their club name, individual nicknames and a memorial to Beverly, make people think of gangs from TV shows such as “Sons of Anarchy” and “Gangland.”

“We’re not a gang,” said Chatfield, who is a truck driver by trade. “We’re a motorcycle club. We’re not carrying guns. We’re not dealing drugs.”

Chatfield, who is also a veteran, said he thought the dispute with Parker had been settled, adding that Parker even offered to buy him a drink after the fight.

Koberna said that since the shooting, he has noticed people looking at club members differently.

“It’s a little disheartening,” he said.

Brad Schoen, director of the RCPD, has said that there is no indication there is significant gang activity in Manhattan, and Lt. Josh Kyle said police contact with the Assassin Street Rydaz has only been minor in the past.

But Keeler, a warrant officer stationed at Fort Riley who joined the club in 2009, said these issues pale in comparison to the continued grieving for Beverly, who was a National Guardsman.

He said Beverly was a very close friend and that there has been a lot of anger since the shooting. Beverly had a contagious personality and was well-known for his smile and community service, Keeler said.

Koberna,who served two tours in Iraq, said Beverly was like his brother and that his saying was, “Let’s go.” He said you couldn’t go to a bar without running into people that Beverly knew.

Beverly’s popularity showed at their candlelight memorial held for him on Jan. 5, where, Koberna, who plans to attend K-State next fall, said about 50 people were expected to show, but close to 200 showed instead. He said that club members go to Beverly’s grave every Sunday to visit with Beverly and each other.

Chatfield said he had such a bond with Beverly that people mistook him for Chatfield’s son.

To honor Beverly’s memory, the club named a scholarship after him. Keeler said the scholarship will go to a graduating high school student or undergrad who “shows an aptitude and desire to pursue further education and careers within family-oriented fields, specifically youth related.”

He said the criteria are a GPA higher than 3.0, a demonstration of youth-focused community activities, two letters of reference and a 500-word essay discussing the applicant’s higher-education goals. For more information, contact the club at assassinstreetrydaz@rocket

The club is also taking donations for the scholarship.

Keeler said the club organizes a lot of carwashes and motorcycle rallies to raise money for different charities. He said their next big project is a rally to benefit autism research, set for April.

He said he joined the club, founded by soldiers in Iraq in 2009, to be around other men who share a common bond. Koberna joined last August, and Chatfield said he joined three years ago.

Chatfield said members include men from around the country and said they don’t care what kind of motorcycle potential members ride.

“We don’t care what you’ve got as long as you don’t come with a tricycle,” he said.

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