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This article was published 30/11/2011 (3007 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A few shots in the dark may be the trigger for yet another round of biker violence in Winnipeg.
Two homes in the 1000 block of Beauty Avenue were hit with gunfire Tuesday night in what sources say was most definitely a targeted attack linked to organized crime. The incident has both the community and police service on edge.
The Free Press has learned two high-ranking members of the Rock Machine were inside one of the homes at the time bullets started flying. It appears the other residence that was struck was simply a case of poor aim by the unidentified shooter.
One home, a slightly rundown two-storey duplex, had its front window boarded up and a bullet hole clearly visible in its back window.
There were no injuries and no arrests have been made.
Privately, police are quite concerned about what this incident could mean, especially since there have been several months in a row of relative calm on the biker scene.
"There are a lot of scores out there to be settled," a source said Wednesday.
Publicly, police would only confirm Wednesday they suspect the drive-by shooting is gang-related.
"I (would) say that given that (the organized crime unit) is investigating it, that’s certainly the suspicion," said Const. Rob Carver, spokesman for the Winnipeg Police Service, adding the way the shooting transpired suggested "forethought."
Police said they’re looking for a male suspect who’s about 16 to 20 years old, around 5-5, with a thin build, wearing all-black clothing. He also had a dark neck-warmer covering his face.
Anyone with information is asked to call the organized crime unit or Crime Stoppers at 786-8477 (TIPS).
Last July, police took the unusual step of going door to door in neighbourhoods where well-known biker gang members lived to warn residents. The move came after more than a dozen violent incidents such as firebombings and shootings in a turf war between the Rock Machine and the Hells Angels, who are aligned with the Redlined Support Crew.
Police confirmed to the Free Press Wednesday Beauty Avenue "was one of the 40 (streets) where police made verbal warnings of neighbouring residences" earlier this year.
"I think any time that there’s a shooting incident where there’s suspected gang involvement, the concern is that there’s some sort of escalation going on," said Carver.
On Wednesday, several neighbours said they recall getting the police warning over the summer and have been anxious ever since. One neighbour said parents on the street have tried to keep their children out of front yards. Several neighbours also heard the gunshots and said the drive-by shooting makes them more fearful.
"You know how it is," said one woman who has lived on the cul-de-sac for 31 years. "It doesn’t matter where you live."
She said she is more nervous now, especially at night.
In August, the brewing hostilities reached new heights when police officers threw themselves into the line of fire to potentially save a life and stop a suspected "hit" from going down. Police received "source" information about a Hells Angel who was going to be targeted at his residence on Antrim Road. Officers set up surveillance outside the home and on nearby streets, looking for any sign of trouble.
Later that night, officers spotted two members of the Rock Machine inside a vehicle, along with a young woman who owned the vehicle and had just started dating one of them. Police sprang into action when the Hells Angel who was apparently being targeted stepped out of his home, just as the vehicle was pulling up in front. Several police units rushed in, smashing into the vehicle and boxing the occupants in. In the process, three officers were injured and had to be treated in hospital. Three cruiser cars were also severely damaged.
One of the Rock Machine suspects allegedly told police "the war is ongoing" and suggested more violence to come. However, there had been no reported incidents until Tuesday night’s shooting.
— with files from Mary Agnes Welch
Mike McIntyre grew up wanting to be a professional wrestler. But when that dream fizzled, he put all his brawn into becoming a professional writer.
Updated on Wednesday, November 30, 2011 at 4:07 PM CST: Adds photo
7:28 PM: Updated with details, organized crime connection