Crime Spree on the Reservation

Teen-gangster Crips on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community got high on crystal meth and cheap beer and terrorized the reservation with drive-by shootings, murder, beatings, fire-bombings and robberies for two years--until the feds busted them fo

In the paramilitary hierarchy of the East Side Crips Rolling Thirties, Riley Senior was the elder and gang "friend," and Riley Junior was the gang leader. Ricardo took his orders from his big brother. Beneath the leadership were the OGs, and beneath the OGs were "Straight Up Soldiers" who had a special division called "the Dark Army" or "Skins Killing Slobs."

The Skins Killing Slobs were "sort of like a death squad," Fulwilder once said. (Like Riley Junior, who had fought a skinhead in high school, everyone seemed to hate skinheads.)

Eventually, Fulwilder became a lieutenant in the gang, which meant he could bodyguard Riley Senior and Riley Junior and had earned the right to wear "M" and "I" tattoos on his face.

Beneath the soldiers were the "Pee Wees," usually reservation teens who would do practically anything to be allowed into the inner circle of the gang. Pee Wees began their gang careers with spray-paint cans and sometimes graduated to murder.

When Pee Wees turned 18, they had another obligation. Members of the Salt River tribe automatically receive "claims money"--about $15,000--on their 18th birthday. Riley Senior expected Pee Wees to turn over part of their claims to purchase more weapons to add to the arsenal at the blue house.

Philbert Antone and his brother Nolan had been physically and mentally abused by their alcoholic mother, who was separated from their alcoholic father. The children were sent to foster homes until their father, Nolan Sr., sobered up.

But by the time Nolan Sr. was awarded custody of the boys, Nolan Jr. was 11 and Philbert was 9. When they returned to the reservation to live with their father, Nolan Jr. says in an interview with New Times, the little boys felt awkward, like outsiders.

Philbert seemed more angry than Nolan. Both boys drank heavily, but Philbert also acted out in other ways--his juvenile rap sheet includes shoplifting, aggravated assault, indecent exposure and sexual abuse. A psychiatrist who assessed him as a youngster concluded Philbert was depressed, stuffed his anger about "abandonment issues" and used alcohol to medicate his depression.

Unlike many others in the gang, Philbert never seemed to have a serious relationship with a woman and did not sire any illegitimate children.

For a while, Philbert tried to make something of himself. He worked at movie theaters and McDonald's, and in December 1991 started working at Subway at Scottsdale Pavilions. But he was fired a year later for frequently missing work.

In April 1993, Philbert Antone seemed to have lost the will to pull his life together. That was the month he joined the East Side Crips Rolling Thirties.

"He seemed not to give a damn about anything," says his brother Nolan. "I understood that. Sometimes I felt that way, too."

In August 1993, Philbert got drunk and was arrested for trying to steal a car in downtown Phoenix. He listed his address as a downtown homeless shelter, perhaps because he did not want his father to know he was drinking and in jail. But he didn't stay in jail for long. He was put on probation and returned to the reservation and his gang.

He did not tell his family of his gang affiliation. He knew his brother, father and stepmother would not approve. He also did not hang around the house much.

Philbert was rehired at the Subway in late 1993. But he flaked out again, started not to show up for work, and got fired in February 1994.

That same month, Philbert and a friend, Arlo Eschief, went to the Jewelbox pawnshop in downtown Phoenix and bought the gun that Eschief would use two months later to kill Pat Lindsay.

Philbert and Eschief were pals for a number of reasons. Eschief had never been jumped into the gang, but he was a "friend" of the East Side Crips Rolling Thirties. Philbert was uncle to two of Eschief's kids--Eschief fathered the children by Philbert's sister, Elizabeth Antone.

Although he did not marry Elizabeth, Eschief was living at the Antones' home in the spring of 1994. When he got drunk, Elizabeth's parents later said, Eschief would fly into rages and sometimes beat up Elizabeth.

Other individuals in the Antone family have declined comment for this story, choosing Nolan Jr. as their family spokesman.

When asked why his parents allowed Eschief and Elizabeth to live in their home, Nolan Jr. said: "I don't know."

Sixteen-year-old John Webster was lonely. He joined the gang to make friends. Webster was of mixed Anglo and Pima heritage, and was shunned because of his Anglo blood. A coordinated kid who was fast on his feet, he practiced karate and even had a black ninja outfit.

Gang leaders noticed his coordination and decided to jump him into the gang in March 1994, the month after Philbert and Eschief bought the Subway murder weapon. Webster's gang name became "Gato," Spanish for "cat," because of his agility.

Webster's court testimony of what happened on the night of May 15, 1994, is the only detailed public account of the Subway murder.

According to Webster, that evening Philbert Antone and Nick Pablo, a 15-year-old gang wanna-be, arrived at his house. Philbert was carrying a bat and talked about robbing and killing a "rich white dude" at the Subway where Philbert used to work. The robbery was necessary to obtain the money to purchase more weapons, Webster was told.

« Previous Page
Next Page »
My Voice Nation Help
Phoenix Concert Tickets