Frankie Varela was the only victim in a Sept. 20 California highway shootout, which allegedly took place between biker gangs Hells Angels and Mongols.
The victim’s friends and family members say that the Mongol member knew the risk when it came to being part of a biker gang.
The shootout on Interstate 15’s El Cerrito Road off-ramp near Corona in Riverside County left one Mongols member dead and two other Mongols members injured.
Details are still sketchy, but reports indicate the Mongols and Hells Angels were shooting at each other when Varela was shot and killed.
There is a long history of bad blood between the two opposing biker groups, which stem back to the Hells Angels’ refusal to give membership to Hispanics. Rejected Hispanics decided to form their own motorcycle club in the late 1960’s, called the Mongols. The group has allegedly been involved in crimes like robbery, drugs and illegal firearms.
Varela, a four-year U.S. Navy firefighter and former correctional officer, maintained a 4.0 grade-point average in his studies for becoming a medical assistant. However, his love of his Harley Davidson motorcycle apparently led him to join the Mongols.
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Fellow Mongol member Miguel Uc, who attended high school with Varela, said he tried to steer his friend away from the “wrong people.” Uc said Varela knew the risks associated with being a member of the Mongols.
“He knew the risk,” said Miguel. “He understood the consequences that came with it. … It wasn’t about being an outlaw. It was about riding motorcycles and being a part of a brotherhood.”
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According to Valerie Lopez, Frankie’s older sister, he was the leader and protector of the group.
“I was the big sister, but (it was like) I was the little sister,” said Lopez. “I was always taken care of. I was known as Frankie’s sister. My brothers, they were known as Frankie’s baby brothers.”
Riverside County Sheriff’s Sgt. Mike Manning said there have been no arrests associated with the shooting and police are not prepared to say it was the Hells Angels who fired the shots.