A Violent Death Marks the Spur Posse’s Legacy : Death: Young man in group that gained notoriety for sex escapades was killed in rowdy holiday gunfire.


Like many a reckless youth, Christopher Albert loved to party, chase women and even join in a good fistfight, now and then.

That attitude carried Albert to a few flickering moments of national notoriety two years ago, when the stocky, freewheeling athlete hit the national talk shows to discuss his membership in the “Spur Posse,” the audacious band of Lakewood High School students who awarded themselves points for every sexual conquest. And that same attitude may have been evident again Tuesday night when Albert, 21, was shot and killed during rowdy Fourth of July celebrations in Huntington Beach.

The circumstances of Albert’s death are still being investigated by Huntington Beach police, who say Albert was with friends at 11 p.m. when an argument broke out with other young men on Pacific Coast Highway. Albert was shot in the chest.


Albert’s death--the first during increasingly violent July 4 festivities in the beach town--became a tragic denouement to the strange tale of the Spur Posse, a white suburban clique whose escapades of sex and violence have left a searing legacy in the lives of those involved. Many in Lakewood, a quiet, middle-class bedroom community northeast of Long Beach, still cannot reconcile the furor that engulfed them in early 1993, when about 20 of the town’s best-looking, most-popular teen-agers became suspects in a series of alleged rapes and acts of molestation involving young girls.

At the time, Albert bragged to The Times about the Posse’s fights with other groups, saying, “That was part of our fun.”

Though Albert was never charged or named as a suspect, he basked eagerly in the spotlight for a time and only later came to express the same misgivings that other Posse members felt, said those who knew him.

“A lot of them really regretted it, and he was one that really regretted it,” said Diane Howard, whose son Jeff was one of Albert’s closest friends. “They were all kids when all this stuff happened. . . . The issue isn’t the Spur Posse, it’s violence . . . random violence. We’re all heartbroken. I’m absolutely heartbroken for his family.”

Albert’s parents, Gerard and Joan, moved from Lakewood to Huntington Beach not long ago, acquaintances of the family said. They could not be reached for comment. Albert’s longtime girlfriend declined to talk about his life, but about 70 of Albert’s friends gathered Wednesday night at the site of the slaying for an informal memorial tribute, said Howard.

“They cried. They had flowers. They wrote notes,” Howard said. “A lot of the kids were trying to deal with it in their own way, I guess. It’s been really tough.”



Albert, a football and baseball star while at Lakewood High, was an especially popular member of a group that was reviled by much of the community, but which boasted a renegade following among Spur Posse wanna-bes and young girls. For the most part, Posse members were successful athletes who went to beer parties, skated by with minimal effort in the classroom and worked to cultivate an image as big men on campus, even after many of the founders graduated.

The group’s point system for tabulating sexual encounters was its passport to fame, with some members claiming 40, 50 and even 60 conquests. Albert himself claimed 38 during an interview with the Times in March, 1993, when the scandal exploded into national news that eventually made the pages of the New Yorker.

Albert had graduated, found a steady girlfriend and become a salesman at a Nordstrom store when the case broke with the arrest of eight teen-agers, a number of them pulled directly from classes at Lakewood High and whisked away in Sheriff’s Department squad cars. In the weeks that followed, Albert and other Posse members appeared on television’s “Night Talk With Jane Whitney” and “The Jenny Jones Show” to talk about the group and its sexual values.

Nearly lost amid the titillation was the specter of youth violence. Lakewood was a Mayberry-like town that had never had gang problems; sheriff’s deputies and an activist community worked diligently to keep the streets safe. Even members of the Spur Posse steadfastly denied being part of a gang, insisting they were just a bunch of friends. They never carried weapons, never wanted to hurt anyone, they said. They only wanted to enjoy themselves.

Yet over a span of two years, a number of Spur Posse drinking parties were marred by fisticuffs. During one party nearly a year before the group made headlines, about 300 guests paid $3 apiece to drink and hear rock music at Albert’s house while his parents were away, Albert recalled later. The night became especially memorable, he said, because a gang of would-be crashers ended up firing several shots outside.

“These little twerp gangsters walked up and said, ‘We ain’t going to pay--we’re getting in for free,’ ” Albert told the Times. “I said, ‘No, you aren’t,’ . . . and the next thing, pow, pow, pow. They shot . . . three or four times. That was a scary night. That was the first time I’ve ever heard gunshots in my life.”


Despite that scare, the members of the Spur Posse often relished a good brawl, Albert said in the interview.

“We were never bad kids . . . [but] if a fight did arise, we were never ones to back down.”

Jeff Howard, who was with Albert while he spoke, put it more bluntly: “I ain’t going to lie. I love a good fight. Who cares?”

In February, 1993, an eight-inch pipe bomb punched a fist-sized hole in the wall of a home where Posse members were believed to congregate.

“It was intended to kill,” a sheriff’s sergeant concluded at the time.

Some in Lakewood came to see the Spur Posse as a bunch of generally good kids who at times exhibited poor judgment, and who got caught up in circumstances that were too much for them. They talk as if the group’s small indiscretions were magnified by the zealous media and made more risky by a society that has grown increasingly dangerous.

“It was all blown out of proportion,” Albert’s friend Johnny Rafkin, 17, said of the scandal. “It gave us all a bad name. . . . The people who knew the guys knew that they were good kids.”


Rafkin blamed the media for Albert’s death, saying TV publicity about the likelihood of rioting in Huntington Beach probably led to the shooting.

Police arrested three men shortly after Albert was killed. One was later released, but Esteban Quiroz, a 22-year-old Riverside man, was charged with murder, and Roy Becerra, also 22, of Corona, was charged as an accessory. Both pleaded not guilty Friday, saying they acted in self defense as they tried to ward off the victim and his friends during a confrontation.


Many in town do not want to talk about Albert. Some speak with rage--or as if groping to understand what went wrong. Even two years later, the whole subject of the Spur Posse is a sensitive one.

“I always felt like [Albert] was kind of lost,” said the father of one Spur Posse member, speaking on the condition that he not be identified. “I saw a young man who I thought was pretty on the ball in some ways. He was sharp, very respectful. . . . [But] I hated to see him kind of drifting and not really getting down to business.”

Joyce Shehan, whose son Billy once claimed to be the Spur Posse points leader with 66 conquests, was one of the angry ones.

“The Shehan family loved Chris Albert,” she said. “And I’m speaking for my son and my husband and myself.”


Then, with a “Bye, see ya,” she hung up.

During the Times interview, Albert talked openly about sex-filled trips to Las Vegas, and how poor grades had kept him from playing varsity baseball his senior year. But he also talked about how finding a steady girlfriend--he had been going with her six months--had caused him to rethink his promiscuous lifestyle.

“My values have totally changed from when I was in high school,” he said, talking about the “easy” young girls who made themselves available to athletes. “[Back then,] if I knew a girl who was like that, I’d jump her, but now . . . if a girl is like that it’s a real turn-off.”

More recently, Albert expressed plans to return to school and showed signs of getting his life in order, the mother of a former Spur Posse member said. Yet when she heard the news of his death, the mother added, “My first reaction was, I wasn’t surprised. I knew they were still fighting.”

Her own son--who was a suspect in the case before nearly all the charges against the group were dropped--is now overseas. He will be devastated to find out, she said.

“I remember [him] saying Chris was the nicest of all the guys,” the mother said. “He was the best.”