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John Severe latest biker with military background busted in Virgil Means homicide

Big photos below.
Big photos below.

Update: "For all those who are worried.... I'm ok. Just dealing with some shit but I will be fine." That's a Facebook message posted a short time ago by John Severe, a Colorado Springs resident who's worked for the military. And he is indeed dealing with some shit: He's one of five people arrested thus far in the early March murder of Virgil Means near the HQ of the Sin City Deciples motorcycle club.

Here's how "The Gangs of Colorado Springs," a February 2011 article from the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs publication The Scribe, described the Deciples.

The Sin City Deciples are a new motorcycle gang that just moved into the area from Indiana. Though they just moved in, they are already about 125 members deep. Their revenue comes from drug sales. They can be identified by their black and gold colors. They are in cahoots with the Crips, even allowing them to hang out at their club house. This is a strange alliance, since most members of the Deciples are middle-aged, while the Crips tend to be younger.

Cut to March 3, when Means and a friend tried to flee from a brawl at the clubhouse. But they were chased and shots were fired, with one that struck Means proving fatal.

A couple of weeks later, Christopher Mountjoy, identified by Colorado Springs police as a staff sergeant assigned to the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, and a member of the Deciples, was charged with murder. According to a 2009 article, Mountjoy suffered traumatic hearing loss in an IED explosion.

The Means investigation didn't end with Mountjoy's arrest. A few days later, John Burrell, part of the 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, of the 4th Brigade Combat Team, was also busted in relation to the homicide. Being taken into custody wasn't a wholly new experience for him; in October, he was reportedly charged with robbery, kidnapping, menacing and a sex offense.

Then, on April 13, Eric Bartholomew, yet another Fort Carson soldier, was charged with first-degree murder in the Means case. His Facebook page notes that he's originally from San Diego and identifies one of his favorite activities (along with the U.S. Army) as "cash."

Which brings us to the latest two arrestees: Deangelo Wells, who's ID'd by police as a Colorado Springs resident, and Severe, a transplant from Cameron, Missouri, whose most prominent Facebook image features him aboard a motorcycle. Here's the shot:

John Severe latest biker with military background busted in Virgil Means homicide

According to the Facebook info section, Severe's favorite quote is from the movie Braveheart: "Every man dies, but not every man truly lives."

Severe adds, "This can be taken in so many ways it's amazing...."

Update: The original version of this post stated that Severe had worked for the United States Army, based on a reference from his Facebook page — and that may be true. However, Colorado Springs Police Department spokeswoman Barbara Miller says the information provided to her by the homicide department states that Severe was a member of the National Guard. (The CSPD is not aware of any military affiliation for Wells.) With that in mind, we've changed references to "Army" in the original item and headline to "military."

Wells and Severe have been charged as accessories to first-degree murder. The CSPD emphasizes that the investigation is ongoing — meaning there may possibly be even more arrests.

Look below to see mug shots of Bartholomew, Wells and Severe, followed by our previous coverage.

Eric Bartholomew.
Eric Bartholomew.
Deangelo Wells.
Deangelo Wells.
John Severe.
John Severe.

Page down for our previous coverage.

 

John Burrell.
John Burrell.

Update, 6:55 a.m. March 22: In recent days, Fort Carson-based Sergeant Christopher Mountjoy was arrested in the death of Virgil Means outside the Sin City Deciples motorcycle club.

Now, a second soldier, John Burrell, has been arrested in the incident. He's being held on the charge of murder in the first degree.

According to the Colorado Springs Gazette, Burrell is part of the 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, of the 4th Brigade Combat Team, whose members began heading to Afghanistan last month.

No word about whether or not Burrell was scheduled to make such a trip — but his most recent brush with the law was hardly his first. The Gazette reports that this past October, he was arrested on a slew of serious charges, including robbery, kidnapping, menacing and what the paper describes as a "sex offense."

Look below to see a larger version of Burrell's most recent mug shot. Then continue reading to learn more about Christopher Mountjoy and the specifics of the incident that took Means's life.

John Burrell.
John Burrell.
Big photo below.
Big photo below.

Update, 11:49 a.m. March 19: Earlier this month, Virgil Means, 31, was shot and killed outside the clubhouse for the Sin City Deciples, a Colorado Springs motorcycle group. Now, local police are accusing Christopher Mountjoy, thirty, of pulling the trigger — something he presumably knows how to do quite well. He's a soldier who appears to have suffered permanent injury to his hearing after an IED explosion.

On March 3, according to the Colorado Springs Gazette, what began as a party devolved into a brawl from which Means and a companion tried to flee.

They didn't get far. The two were chased and shots were fired, allegedly by Mountjoy, a staff sergeant assigned to the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division; the Colorado Springs Police Department also identifies him as a member of the Sin City Deciples. Some of the bullets found Means, who died shortly after his arrival at an area hospital.

A spokesperson at Fort Carson provided no details about Mountjoy's combat history, but the Gazette notes that the 1st Brigade Combat Team returned last spring from Kandahar, one of the most dangerous areas in Afghanistan. The deployment is said to have lasted a year.

More details can be found in "Traumatic Hearing Loss: Not All War Wounds Are Visible," published by HealthyHearing.com in 2009. The article outlines one wartime event experienced by Staff Sergeant Chris Mountjoy, a 27-year-old assigned to Fort Carson. From the piece:

The bad guys are looking for the troops. As the Humvee turns a corner, Staff Sgt. Chris Mountjoy opens the door at the precise moment that insurgents detonate a powerful IED — improvised explosive device.

Fortunately, the armored door protects Sgt. Mountjoy from the deadly shrapnel. However, the concussive force blows the sergeant 30 feet through the air. It also caused hearing loss by rupturing his ear drums and damaging the inner ear sensory hair cells that allow us to hear. When physical damage to the hearing mechanism has occurred due to excessive noise, it is referred to as acoustic trauma.

The sergeant couldn't hear a sound for three days and, today, through the use of hearing aids, Sgt. Mountjoy is able to continue his service to his country in an administrative capacity at Fort Carson's 10th Combat Hospital.

After his injury, Mountjoy is said to have insisted on keeping his kids in sight at all times, fearful that he might not hear a little one in need of "Daddy's help." But with the help of hearing aids, he was able to develop "the inner strength to adapt and thrive despite his sacrifice," the article maintains. After noting that Mountjoy's tasks included helping other returning soldiers adjust to battlefield-related hearing loss, he's quoted as saying, "I've learned to live with it rather than fight it."

Below, see a larger version of Mountjoy's mug shot, followed by our previous coverage.

Christopher Mountjoy.
Christopher Mountjoy.

Original item, 6:27 a.m. March 5: Virgil Means has been identified as the victim of a Saturday homicide in the Colorado Springs area.

The killing is being linked to a disturbance at the clubhouse of the Sin City Deciples, which police describe as a motorcycle club. And at least one local publication calls the Deciples a gang.

According to the Colorado Springs Police Department, officers received a call on Saturday afternoon from Penrose Main Hospital, where Means had been transported. The person who'd drove him to the facility told cops there had been a disturbance near the Sin City Deciples' clubhouse, at 628 West Vermijo Street. He said the pair were in a car when several shots rang out, striking the vehicle and Means, who died about ten minutes after arriving at Penrose.

Shortly thereafter, cops armed with a search warrant showed up at the clubhouse, using a tactical enforcement unit to gain entry. No surprise investigators would start there, given reports about the group. Example: "The gangs of Colorado Springs," a February 2011 article from the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs publication The Scribe, which contains the following passage.

The Sin City Deciples are a new motorcycle gang that just moved into the area from Indiana. Though they just moved in, they are already about 125 members deep. Their revenue comes from drug sales. They can be identified by their black and gold colors. They are in cahoots with the Crips, even allowing them to hang out at their club house. This is a strange alliance, since most members of the Deciples are middle-aged, while the Crips tend to be younger.

There's no mention of the Deciples on Means' Facebook page, either on the wall or the info section, which features quotes from from Martin Luther King Jr. ("The time is always right to do the right thing") and Marcus Aurelius ("A man's life is what his thoughts make it." Also included is the Biblical proverb, "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he."

Also included are a number of self-portraits, including this one:

Virgil Means.
Virgil Means.

Several notes of condolence have been posted, including "Damn bro words can't tell how you will be missed my friend my prayers go out to your family" and an eloquently simple message that reads simply, "Tears."

No arrests have been made at this writing. Looking below to see an interactive graphic of the area near the scene. If you have problems seeing the image, click "View Larger Map."


View Larger Map

Follow and like the Michael Roberts/Westword Facebook page.

More from our Colorado Crimes archive: "Hell's Lovers: Nineteen suspects appear in court on drugs, weapons, explosives charges."


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