Eric Wayne Thorsgard was in the worst possible situation. He was taken into custody, accused of beating up somebody in the alley outside a biker bar in Oceanside. That wasn’t the worst part.
Eric is known as “Thor” to his pals in the Hells Angels. (No, they don’t use an apostrophe in the name, and if you don’t like the punctuation you can tell them yourself.)
Thor is a “full patch” member, which is top status, full member. You might not know that a man needs an invitation just to have “hang around” status for this exclusive group of motorcycle riders. Women need not apply. The next step up in approval is “prospect” status. For each of these steps, one gets a small red-and-white patch to wear; the patch displays rank. Any recognition at all from the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club is exhilarating to certain persons.
The notorious club guards its reputation, such as it is; for example, they will not tolerate someone pretending to be a member who is not really a member. And there are expectations for persons who are members; for example, one must have an American-made motorcycle. This includes Harleys and Indians and Victory-made bikes.
Thor ran into a problem when a rumor sprang up that the guy he’d “thumped” was an old man. Worse, the old man is reportedly a member of a “friendly” motorcycle club.
So Thor found himself needing to answer felony assault charges from the State of California. And he needed to answer to the Hells Angels, too.
“One More That’s It” Pub in Oceanside, California
On a Friday night last January, Thor was having drinks in a biker bar in Oceanside. The bar is called One More That’s It. Regulars refer to it as OMTI — they say “ohmtee.” The low-profile bar is located on the northern coast of San Diego County, near Camp Pendleton.
Thor is a largish guy, six feet tall and more than 200 pounds. He got a ride to the bar with his friend, John Michael Wayne.
John Michael Wayne is small and tough and an active-duty Marine. He is 28 now; he joined the Marines when he was 20. Wayne has been deployed twice to Afghanistan. He said he is anxious to go back to “forward deployment” with his platoon later this year.
Marine Staff Sergeant Wayne met Thor a couple of years ago when he bought a motorcycle. Thor was a salesman at Biggs Harley-Davidson. The two men discovered that they were both from Kansas. They enjoyed each other’s company and spent time together.
The night of January 6, 2012, Wayne drove his blue Ford pickup truck to the biker bar. It was only a mile from his home. Wayne brought his wife and his friend Thor.
Wayne’s wife is attractive, and Wayne knows it. (“My wife is a pretty girl, she gets talked to a lot.”) The security guy at the front door said he particularly remembered her, because he wondered why such a good-looking woman was with such rough-looking guys.
Wayne said that while he was playing pool, he noticed an old guy at the bar chatting up his wife. “He was kinda laughing and whispering in her ear.” The old guy bought Wayne’s wife three rounds, three shots of tequila. But the wife declined the last drink. She went to her husband to get the truck keys and said she wanted to wait out in the truck. “She was tired of drinking,” Wayne said later.
Then Wayne went up to the old guy hunched over at the bar. “I walked over to him and said, ‘Do you mind if we have a word outside?’” The old man agreed to go outside.
This is Wayne’s version: his friend Thor was outside having a cigarette with the doorman, and Wayne walked by them with the old guy. When the two were in the dark alley alongside the bar, Wayne asked the old man, “Hey, how come you’re hitting on my wife?” The tough old bird was not a bit intimidated. He leaned into the smaller man and said, “So, this is how it’s going to be?”
Thor then joined the discussion. He took a special interest when the old man claimed to be Hells Angels. The old man may have dated his membership as 1974–1981, but Wayne was later fuzzy on this detail.
Thor must have believed the old guy would enjoy revisiting the colors for a moment, because Thor opened up his overcoat to show the Hells Angels colors he was wearing underneath. The old man “bowed up” and puffed out his chest and Wayne said, “I saw that as a threat, so I punched him.” The old man immediately went down on the ground.
The doorman said he couldn’t hear any of the conversation, but he did see that Thor and Wayne had their heads close to the old man, “like an inch from his face.” The doorman speculated that the three were either close friends or menacing each other. Then the old man flew backward.
The Geezers Motorcycle Club
The old man didn’t really want to talk about getting punched out at the bar last January. “Whatever problem I had was already taken care of, resolved a long time ago.” He said he just wanted his broken eyeglasses replaced; they cost him $300.
The San Diego district attorney’s office said it might be dangerous to name the alleged victim, since he’d been served a subpoena to testify against two Hells Angels members.
The old man rides with a motorcycle club called the Geezers. He said he is the oldest member and admits to being 65. The Geezers go on “runs” and have barbeques and parties. The old man has a Harley-Davidson Dyna Super Glide. He’s been riding for more than 40 years. He was once a Marine (“I got blowed up with a mortar when I was in Vietnam.”) and has medical problems related to Agent Orange. He said he is on 100 percent disability.