Street gangs with outside muscle, targeting the Hells Angels, have sparked the outburst of violence that’s left five adult businesses in flames and two people shot, police said Wednesday.
Late Wednesday, three of the men police arrested — two from London, one from Brampton, Ont. — appeared in court via video to answer charges related to the shooting.
All three men are black, giving credence to the police theory that biker gangs — which don’t usually allow black members — aren’t responsible for the recent violence.
Whoever is responsible for the fires and shootings, they’ll have to answer for it, Chief Brad Duncan vowed at a news conference.
“You are priority No. 1,” Duncan said. “We will not tolerate this open display of violence. This shooting has taken place in a residential area, in close proximity to a public school, and notwithstanding the time of day that it occurred, it has put our citizens at grave risk.”
Police held the news conference partly to quell rumours the violence is a result of a battle between the Hells Angels and their traditional rivals, the Outlaws, another biker gang.
But street gangs “can be every bit as dangerous as the more traditional outlaw motorcycle clubs,” Duncan said. “They are associated with the drug trade. Guns and firearms are involved. They are every bit as organized.”
Street gangs have no fear of the Hells Angels or any outlaw motorcycle club, biker analyst and author Yves Lavigne told QMI Agency.
In London, the street gangs have taken over the drug-trafficking market because traditional biker clubs lost their power, Lavigne said.
In December, the revived Hells Angels chapter in London began leaning on the street gang members to start working for them, he said.
“What you’ve seen the past five days is the street gangs telling the Hells Angels, ‘Screw you.’”
Organized crime analyst and author James Dubro said the news that a street gang, not the Outlaws, is targeting the Hells Angels could spell even more trouble in London.
“In the end, it leads to more violence and more chaos in the underworld,” he said. “Hells Angels has it all. You couldn’t possibly take them on.”
Two sources with knowledge of London’s criminal world said they’re expecting the London Hells Angels will bring in supporters from out of town to deal with the matter.
The violence began Saturday morning, when a tattoo parlour owned by a member of the Outlaws was set ablaze. That was followed by fires at a strip club owned by a Hells Angels leader, and two massage parlours, Sunday morning.
The sequence of fires suggested the Outlaws and Hells Angels were in the early stages of a war. The violence escalated Wednesday morning, just after midnight, when a man and a woman were shot outside a suspected Hells Angels clubhouse
The woman was treated for gunshot wounds and released from hospital. The man remains in hospital in serious condition.
Police said the man is a known member of the Hells Angels who has had “ongoing issues with street gangs.”