A LOOK BACK AT OCTOBER 15, 1976
On this day 39 years ago, at about 8:00 am, there was an armed attack on the Tampa Bay Chapter of the Outlaws Motorcycle Club by a group of individuals wearing biker apparel.
This article is about the brave young man who stood his ground and defended his home and those asleep inside. He shot three of the unidentified attackers before he was gunned down with a .44 magnum round in the head. His name is Hank Ruby, AKA Harpo 1%er.
It turns out this fiasco was a first time “No Knock Search Warrant” raid by a new undercover narcotics task squad. The only problem is there was no announcement and nothing identifying the attackers as law enforcement.
After a long recovery period Harpo 1%er survived with permanent massive brain damage that left him blind in one eye and paralyzed on one side. He was then charged by the State of Florida with three counts for the attempted murder of three police officers.
The State’s attempted murder charges were dismissed based on permanent brain damage leaving Harpo incompetent to assist in his defense. The wounded officers then filed a civil case seeking monetary damages. Once again that case was dismissed based on the permanent brain damage.
In December 1982, Harpo 1%er was again indicted for the three attempted murder charges This time in a Middle District of Florida Racketeering Influence Corrupt Organization (RICO) case against the Jacksonville and Tampa Outlaws motorcycle club chapter. The government declared Harpo competent and his case was used by the government to win it’s first ever RICO conviction against a motorcycle club.
Harpo 1%er was convicted and received a 35 years sentence for defending his home and friends from an attack by a gang of armed and unidentified persons. To me Harpo 1%er was my brother and is a true HERO who is gone but will never be forgotten as long as I live.
Original Article 1997
OCTOBER GUN BATTLE
A Tribute to Harpo 1%er G.B.N.F.
On a cool October morning in 1976, Harry Ruby slept deeply, unaware that life as he knew it was about to end. The previous night, he had celebrated his 23rd birthday with friends. Harry and his girlfriend were downstairs, with the rest of his friends asleep upstairs at the two-story house on East 93rd Avenue. No one heard a van pull up outside.
Armed bearded men spilled from the van and rushed up to the house. One man broke the glass in the front door, waking Harry. He was stunned to see armed men breaking into the house in broad daylight, and realized he had to defend himself and his friends immediately or die. Terrified, Harry exchanged shots with the men. In the volley of bullets, Harry was shot in the head. Over two dozen rounds pumped into the house before the intruders realized no one was returning fire.
The following day, the Tampa Tribune carried the headlines: “Three Deputies Hurt in Cycle Gang Shootout.”
Harry Ruby never rated a headline because he was also known as Harpo, an Outlaw 1%er.
According to the newspaper account, 13 “plainclothes” officers were attempting to serve a narcotics search warrant on the newly inhabited Outlaws Club House when they were met by gunfire. No mention was made of the disguises they wore when they broke into the house.
“It was a fiasco,” Sheriff’s Major Cal Henderson said of what the newspaper termed “the most violent police confrontation to date with the motorcycle gang calling themselves the Outlaws.”
“It looked like a bloodbath in there,” said a member of Tampa’s Fire and Rescue Squad as he picked his way among shards of broken glass.
Sympathetic accounts of the wounded officers’ careers and medical conditions filled the columns of the Tampa Tribune for days. Not much was said about the young biker with permanent brain damage lying in a coma at University Community Hospital. Ray Smith, an administrator at the hospital, commented that Harpo’s chances of living were “very slim.”
Still, as he lay in a coma, Harpo was charged with three counts of attempted first-degree murder, possession of a short-barreled shotgun and possession of marijuana. The marijuana was found under the house when a search dog was brought in later in the afternoon of the raid. Although it was obvious the moldy quarter-pound had been there long before the Outlaws moved in a month ago, the unconscious Harpo was charged with possession. His bond was posted at $150,000.00.
Badly shaken but uninjured, the other seven people in the house were also arrested and charged with felony possession of marijuana and weapons.
Later, during testimony trying to justify their screw-up, the police said they felt they had to gain entrance to the house before anyone inside became aware of their arrival and destroyed the drugs they hoped to find. They testified they had raided the house repeatedly with uniformed officers and found no drugs. They still found no drugs, until they decided to call in a search dog from MacDill Air Force Base hours after the raid, and the canine conveniently found some ancient pot under the house.
Further, it will never be known if the injured officers were shot by Harpo 1%er or by their own comrades. Most evidence quickly vanished from the house, including tell-tale doors, frames and windows. Why? This horrific incident took place in an election year, with a heated rivalry for the office of sheriff. Instead of generating good publicity for the current sheriff, as intended, the disaster threatened his chances of election.
Despite predictions, Harpo lived, only to face serious federal charges because of a sheriff’s publicity stunt gone wrong. A vicious Federal Prosecutor made sure that Harpo went to federal prison, even though he was brain-damaged, partially blinded and crippled. Harpo was disabled to the point that he could not even communicate adequately with his defense attorney to present his side of the story. Harpo died in 2001 in Federal Prison without ever knowing freedom again.
I want to insure that everyone knows Harpo’s story. Harpo was a true 1%er who loved his brothers so much he put his life on the line in their defense. We will cherish his memory for as long as a single Outlaw 1%er exists. Harpo 1%er is now on our list of Outlaws 1%er heroes who are G. B. N. F. (Gone But Not Forgotten).
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