Bacchus Motorcycle Club forced out of headquarters
Published Thursday, July 19, 2012 12:55PM ADT
Last Updated Thursday, July 19, 2012 7:49PM ADT
The Bacchus Motorcycle Club is moving out of its headquarters in the south end of Saint John.
Members of the controversial club began moving furnishings, appliances and other materials out of the Pitt Street building this morning, while Saint John police monitored the activity.
Bacchus members wouldn’t say where they were taking their belongings, although one member suggested they were going into storage.
Police say the group agreed to move voluntarily and has agreed not to set up anywhere else in the city.
They also say the members are being forced to move out because of deficiencies in the clubhouse, after a number of building code violations were discovered after police searched the building this week in relation to an alleged murder.
“We were able to get the fire marshall’s office to place a ‘do not occupy’ order on the premises, because after inspection, they found that the premises were deficient in a number of different areas,” says Const. Keith Copeland.
Club president Matthew Thomas Foley, 50, is facing a second-degree murder charge in connection with a shooting, although police say it was not gang-related, but rather a dispute between Foley and the victim, 31-year-old Michael Thomas Schimpf.
Police responded to a report of shots fired around 8 p.m. Saturday. When they arrived they found Schimpf’s body at the corner of Pitt and Leinster Streets.
Investigators say volunteer ground search and rescue crews recovered a handgun Wednesday as they searched near the Courtney Bay causeway, not far from where the murder took place.
“It took a long time,” says Copeland. “It was an intensive search and they did an excellent job and we recovered a firearm.”
At this time, police won’t confirm whether the handgun found yesterday was the one used in the shooting. They are only saying the weapon is going to be forensically processed to see if it has been used in any recent criminal offence.
Earlier this week, some area residents told CTV News the bikers have been a constant source of disruption.
“It’s daily. We’ve had nothing but headaches,” said one area resident. “So I hope this is the mark where they are gone.”
However, today some neighbours spoke in favour of the clubhouse.
“I’ll walk down this street everyday whether the Bacchus are here or not,” says area resident Crystal Gill. “I have no fear of anything happening to me. I didn’t do anything to anyone so there’s no reason to fear.”
But a south end city councillor says the closure of the clubhouse is good for the area.
“I’ve only heard from one or two individuals who have spoken in support of the club and members of the club,” Donnie Snook. “What I do know is that it has been an ongoing concern by many members of the community. This latest incident clearly struck fear in those who live in close proximity to this location.”
Foley has been remanded in custody and will return to court on Aug. 15 to set a date for a preliminary inquiry.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Mike Cameron