Hells Angels deny connection to beaten woman outside club


By Albert Amateau and Mary Reinholz

About 18 hours after a woman was found severely beaten on Sunday night Jan. 28 on the sidewalk near the Hells Angels clubhouse on E. Third St., police armed with automatic weapons and a search warrant entered the premises and took five members for questioning.

By 9:30 p.m. Mon. Jan. 29, police had wrapped the front door of the clubhouse at 77 Third St. in brown paper and took it away, presumably as evidence in the beating case. But no charges had been filed by press time on Tues. Jan. 30 and the investigation by law enforcement officials continued.

The victim of the beating, Roberta Shalaby, who underwent surgery at Bellevue Hospital on Monday to relieve pressure on the brain, was said to be awake after a medically induced coma but with no memory of what had happened, according to her daughter, Michele Caruso, 24, who was quoted in the Daily News on Tuesday. Police said when Shalaby was found she was slipping in and out of consciousness.

Ron Kuby, a lawyer who represents the biker club, said at a news conference on Monday that the police raid, accompanied by a Hostage Negotiation Team van, an Emergency Service Unit van and a low-flying police helicopter overhead, was a harassment of the Hell’s Angels and that police “have turned Third St. into Fallujah.” News reports also said that police snipers had been posted on rooftops.

The club has previously sued the city for searching the place without a warrant, and seven members and two women friends won a $450,000 judgment on the grounds that police exceeded a warrant in a 1998 assault investigation.

E. Third St. witnesses said that police investigating the beating on Sunday night were refused entry to the clubhouse and were told to get a warrant.

Shalaby was reported by witnesses to have been celebrating her 52nd birthday when she got into a dispute at The Edge, a nearby E. Third St. bar, with the girlfriend of a California biker who was staying at the Hells Angels’ East Village clubhouse. Shalaby, described as being drunk, followed the bikers to the clubhouse and screamed demands to enter, witnesses said.

One witness told the Post he had seen someone let the victim in and then seen her being ejected with her head bloodied. Police found Shalaby unconscious in front of 81 E. Third St., the New York Law School residence next door to the club.

At 9:30 p.m. on Monday, Fire Department personnel removed eight canisters from the clubhouse, one of which was visibly labeled as nitrous oxide and others with green tips indicating they were for oxygen. Nitrous oxide, commonly known as laughing gas, is used to supercharge engines, and oxygen is used in oxyacetylene welding. Both require permits for storage.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Hells Angels and Kuby held another press conference in front of the clubhouse. Kuby said Rich West, a club member who police had considered the primary suspect, will file a federal civil rights lawsuit over being taken from the club, held and questioned. Police also reportedly confiscated all six video surveillance cameras from in front of the club.

“We are bad guys, no doubt,” said Bart Dowling, one of the bikers. “We don’t pretend to be saints. But we don’t beat up freakin’ women.”

The Angels said they just want to be left alone, but news cameras and vans were still parked outside their home on Tuesday evening.

The Angels “don’t particularly like participating in a reality show,” Kuby said. He also complained that police had ticketed the Angels’ cars for alternate-side-of-the-street parking violations while the area was cordoned off for the evidentiary search.

Speaking before the press conference, Brendan Manning, the clubhouse’s president, said they had not been at the bar Sunday night, didn’t know anything about the incident and had been sleeping at the time and that reporters should ask at the bar to find out about whatever happened there.

Mike Rich, the owner of the Edge bar, denied Tuesday’s Daily News report that California and New York Hells Angels had been hobnobbing at his bar the night of the incident and that Shalaby had gotten into a shouting match with one of the California bikers’ women while at the bar before leaving. Interviewed at the bar after Tuesday’s press conference, Rich — who also tends bar and was bartending Sunday night — told his version of events.

He said Shalaby had come up to the bar, wanting a beer, which costs $4.

“She said, ‘Hi, my name is Barbarella and I have $3.’ I gave her a break,” he recalled. “I had a jazz band playing. She was dancing. She was acting a little schizophrenic — it wasn’t that she was drunk. But it was a little weird. She was crying a little bit at one point: She said, ‘The Village isn’t the way it used to be.’”

Rich said the woman left the bar at 10:30 p.m. or 10:45 p.m., with the parting words, “I’ll see you guys in hell.” He said that 15 minutes later he saw ambulances arriving outside, adding, “I don’t know what happened.”

Rich said the Hells Angels do frequent his bar — but steadfastly denied that they had been there Sunday night.