Police work to find Crooks Den killer of Outlaws member ‘Louie the Lip’

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DAYTONA BEACH —(video)-- “Louie the Lip” lay clinging to life on the concrete in the alley near the rear door of a bar with knife wounds to his body Monday night.

His vital signs stopped after he got to the hospital and now police are trying to piece together how he died and what led to the violent encounter among rival biker gang members at the Crooks Den, 126 Orange Ave.

 

Louie the Lip’s actual name is Christopher Keating, a 59-year-old member of the Outlaws Motorcycle Club, a notorious biker gang that has a local presence, police said.

No arrests have been made, but video cameras inside the establishment captured footage of a fight that broke out around 8:30 p.m. near the service bar, which carried over toward the end of the rear hallway near the exit and spilled outside, said Daytona Beach Deputy Chief of Police Jakari Young, who held a media conference Tuesday morning.

“We can tell you that it was an altercation between our victim and a couple of other gentlemen inside the bar,” Young said. “Ultimately, from that argument, it led to the rear patio where they engaged in (another) altercation.”

Lyda Longa, a Daytona Beach police spokeswoman, later confirmed that Monday’s fight was between members of the Outlaws and Pagans. She wouldn’t comment on whether those two routinely cause more problems compared to other biker gangs. The department considers all of them dangerous, she said.

The second dispute involved at least one knife and Keating suffered stab wounds to his upper back, Young said. He was rushed to Halifax Health Medical Center and pronounced dead, according to police.

Two 9-1-1 calls were made. One of those calls came from a distraught woman who identified the stabber as “bald” and a Pagan member.

 
 

‘Bleeding to death’

 

“Oh my God, no!” the unidentified woman could he heard yelling on the phone. The operator urged her to calm down, but she wouldn’t. The operator asked whether there was someone else she could talk to, at which time a man took the phone. He was almost as frantic. He confirmed that Keating was seriously hurt.

The operator asked whether the suspect was still on the premises, but the male caller was only interested in talking about Keating.

“The guy is bleeding to death, that’s what matters!” he said.

He told the operator that the rival gang members were no longer there and told her they were “white guys on bikes.” He then yelled at someone to put pressure on Keating’s wound.

Among the witnesses was Steve Kline, 67, who about 14 months ago bought the Crooks Den.

Kline was seated at the bar when he heard a commotion. Two women in hysterics ran from the restroom area to the bar pleading for him to call 9-1-1. Before Kline could register what was happening, another patron inside the bar called police, Kline said.

“I’m kind of shocked right now,” he said at the bar 12 hours after the stabbing. “I never thought something like that would happen. I didn’t think it would get to that extent.”

 

There were about 30 people in the bar Monday night and Kline said he noticed nothing out of the ordinary before the deadly fight. He recognized the men as people he had seen before at the Crooks Den, but wouldn’t consider them regulars.

Kline said he saw a few men walk down the hall one by one toward the restrooms, but they didn’t look hostile or angry. Seconds later came the stabbing.

The second 9-1-1 call came from an unidentified man who admitted he was reluctant to call in the first place.

“I was told by the owner to stay out of it, but I kind of know what went on, but I don’t want to be a snitch,” the caller said. After he was told someone else had already called 9-1-1, he replied, “OK, then. I’m out of this. I was just asked to do what I’m doing now.”

Video captures fight

The fight caused some structural damage to the bar. A water pipe running along the ceiling was nearly ripped down.

Longa said the department has received 56 calls for service at the Crooks Den since Jan. 1, 2016. The calls range from Monday night’s homicide to various medical calls. Other responses have been for thefts, outstanding warrants, drugs, fraud, alarm activation and vandalism, she said.

 

Young said those who were involved in the skirmish fled through the back alley, got on their motorcycles that were parked out front on Orange and pulled away before police arrived.

The deputy chief said he has seen the video footage and it was difficult to make out specifics, but it was clear that a fight had started to break out inside the bar.

“You can see an altercation,” Young said. “You can see a few men engaged in a physical fight. That’s pretty much what it shows.”

Images from the video can’t be released to the media because it is part of the evidence, he said.

Criminal past

Keating, who lived in the Lake Ashby area southwest of New Smyrna Beach, didn’t appear to have been armed when he was stabbed, according to police.

“Any time you’re dealing with gangs, there’s a possibility of retaliation,” Young said.

 

“This is not something to be proud of,” he added, aiming his comment to the rival gang suspected of causing Keating’s death. “Someone lost their life last night and we’re just going to do our best to bring those persons to justice.”

Keating was one of 14 defendants in a Jacksonville federal courtroom in early 1983 during a highly publicized racketeering trial that lasted close to a month, according to various archival news stories. All of defendants on trial were members of the Outlaws. All but one of them were convicted and were sentenced to various terms in April of that year.

Keating was convicted of conspiracy and racketeering charges, the Associated Press reported at the time. Even though he was sentenced to 20 years, a federal inmate database showed that Keating was released from prison in February 1987. He already had the “Louie the Lip” moniker before the trial, according to a couple of stories written back then.

A Miami Herald reporter who covered the trial described some harrowing testimony. A woman was falsely accused by the gang of stealing Quaaludes and her punishment included being locked in a room with Keating, who repeatedly beat her in her chest and side. He also threatened her life while playing with a gun, according to the Miami Herald story.

One of the most infamous local Outlaws was Harry “Taco” Bowman, who spent time on the FBI’s Most Wanted list in 1998. News reports show Bowman was linked to the murder of a fellow Outlaws member in 1982 in Ormond Beach and the murder of a rival club member in 1991 in Edgewater. After a year of being wanted by the FBI, he was apprehended in Michigan, tried and convicted of racketeering and other charges. He is serving two life sentences.

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Tony Holt
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