‘Do not approach’: OPP warn public as biker gang violence erupts in eastern Ontario

‘Do not approach’: OPP warn public as biker gang violence erupts in eastern Ontario

OPP say people should avoid engaging with members of biker gangs after violence broke out between two rival motorcycle clubs in eastern Ontario this week.

The situation is serious enough that the OPP is even cautioning people not to wear gang-related clothing, as it could make them targets of biker violence.

Saturday evening, police say a fight between two biker gangs in Cornwall, Ont., the Outlaws and the Loners, left three people injured, two with stab wounds and another with gunshot wounds.

Less than two days later, the Outlaws hangout in Brockville, Ont., was severely burned in a fire that spread to nearly a dozen other homes in the area, police said.

Click to play video: 'Brockville Fire'

Brockville Fire

As of Tuesday morning, Brockville police are treating the second incident as an arson investigation, and the OPP’s biker enforcement unit is assisting in both investigations.

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Five people were arrested following the shooting in Cornwall, but no arrests have been announced in the Brockville arson investigation.

Brockville police said that as of Tuesday at about 12:45 p.m., they had no updates on the investigation, and that the Office of the Fire Marshal was still at the site looking into the cause of the blaze.

The investigation is expected to continue overnight, and into Wednesday, police said.

OPP asking people not to engage with bikers

OPP released information Tuesday about both incidents and told people in Ontario to be wary of engaging with bikers.

“Outlaws Motorcycle Gangs (OMG) members are known to carry weapons and to engage in violent behaviour. If you encounter an OMG member(s), do not approach them,” OPP said in a news release.

Although Brockville and Cornwall police, as well as OPP, have stopped short of saying the two incidents are connected, it’s clear that police are taking the string of incidents involving biker gangs seriously.

OPP are specifically asking residents to avoid wearing any biker-related clothing, out of fear that it may make them a target in potential gang violence.

“Sometimes people buy these garments, these shirts from motorcycle shops or rallies, not realizing the significance,” said Det. Insp. Scott Wade, with the OPP’s organized crime bureau, which oversees its biker gang unit.

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“By wearing that, it’s basically displaying, ‘I support this team,’ and then that means a conflict with the opposite team,” Wade said.

Wade said that he believes the two incidents in Cornwall and Brockville are isolated, but that there is always a risk when a conflict arises between biker gangs.

“There’s always a potential for violence because these groups carry guns and are involved in violent crime and utilize violence to enforce some of their own rules,” Wade said.

According to Wade, who has been working in motorcycle investigations for the last two decades, large-scale biker violence like the events seen in eastern Ontario over the last week  — incidents that spill over into the community — are not a common occurrence.

But, the Loners and the Outlaws do share a turf. The Outlaws have had a presence in Brockville and eastern Ontario for years, and the Loners are an Ontario-based group, unaffiliated with any larger biker gangs, Wade said.

“There is a history there between the clubs,” he said.

Still, Wade said conflict between biker gangs is not completely out of the ordinary, and shouldn’t be a cause for major concern for the wider community.

“While I don’t see a huge elevated risk to the public— I don’t — we have to be aware,” he said.

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This is why Wade and the OPP’s biker gang unit thought it best to ask the community to avoid wearing gang paraphernalia at this time.

“They’re not the cool gangs you see on TV. They are criminal organizations.”

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