Five people have been arrested in the investigation of a fatal stabbing reported Friday in Gustine.
The men were arrested this week in Southern California on charges related to the murder of 33-year-old Bill James of Gustine, said deputy Tom MacKenzie, Merced County sheriff's spokesman.
Still, sheriff's officials said they're keeping many details about the case under wraps, such as the suspects' identities, to protect the integrity of the investigation.
MacKenzie acknowledged the suspects may be members of an outlaw biker gang, but the motive for the crime remains under investigation. Sheriff's officials still haven't publicly named the biker gang that may be involved.
James died after being stabbed at the Gustine Club, 431 Fifth St. The stabbing was reported about 11:30 p.m., and the victim was found in the street outside the bar.
Investigators believe eight to 10 men walked into the bar and a fight erupted after the suspects approached the victim. During the fight, Mac-Kenzie said, one of the suspects sprayed bar patrons with a can of mace or pepper spray.
Once the bar was empty, the suspects stabbed James several times. The fight spilled onto the street. James was stabbed again and collapsed, MacKenzie said.
Shortly afterward, he was pronounced dead at Memorial Hospital Los Banos.
Although James had a prior record, MacKenzie said investigators so far have no indication he was a member of an outlaw biker gang.
Members of James' family told the Merced Sun-Star this week that James wasn't affiliated with any gang, saying he was an innocent bystander who happened to be at the wrong place, at the wrong time.
MacKenzie said investigators still are looking into whether James was the intended target.
Sheriff Mark Pazin said earlier this week that detectives believe the suspects attended a biker rally in Santa Nella before the stabbing. Detectives believe that, after leaving the event, the suspects went to Gustine, where the stabbing took place.
During a follow-up investigation of the homicide, Merced County sheriff's detectives, along with about 50 officers from neighboring agencies, went to the biker rally, held at the Hotel De Oro, in the 13000 block of Highway 33.
About 150 members, associates and guests of a motorcycle gang were at the event. During the investigation, Salvador Ochoa, 36, of La Habra, was arrested on suspicion of possession of a concealed weapon while being active in a criminal street gang.
MacKenzie said Ochoa's arrest isn't connected to James' death.
Ochoa is being held at the Merced County Jail in lieu of $50,000 bail.