Texas Shooting Elevates Security Concerns for Sturgis Rally

A motorcycle gang shootout in Texas that left nine dead has elevated security concerns for the upcoming Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota.

The annual rally draws hundreds of thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts to western South Dakota's Black Hills, and organizers are expecting up to 1 million people this year for the 75th anniversary event in early August.

Attorney General Marty Jackley told the Argus Leader newspaper that his office has contacted authorities in Texas about the shootout in Waco on Sunday involving rival motorcycle gangs.

"We will be aware of the latest circumstances," he said.

The state Division of Criminal Investigation plans to keep a command center open longer during the rally Aug. 1-8, Jackley said.

The Waco incident will not prompt rally organizers to add more security because additional law officers already were planned for the expected large crowd, Sturgis City Manager Daniel Ainslie said. The city plans to hire officers from at least 10 states as security, he said.

"We are being very vigilant to ensure the safety of our residents and visitors," Ainslie said.

Sturgis hasn't been immune to biker gang activity. In 2006, six people were injured in an exchange of gunfire between two rival clubs. Area law enforcement officials indicated they will be keeping close tabs on biker gangs leading up to the rally.

The FBI provides oversight at the rally. Spokesman Kyle Loven declined to disclose details about the agency's rally preparations but said he doesn't expect serious problems.

"Typically, that rally sees little to no violence," Loven said. "It's an event where motorcycle enthusiasts come to town to show off bikes to meet other folks, so historically speaking, law enforcement hasn't seen any serious issues in connection with the event."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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