Two men are charged with arson in connection with a firebomb attack on a Winnipeg tattoo parlour that police say is the latest violence in an ongoing biker war.
The Osborne Village tattoo shop, 187 Ink, was targeted Wednesday morning. The damage was minimal and the business opened its doors the same day.
Taylor Brett Morrison, 23, and Shaine Gerald Stodgell, 33, have been charged with arson and possessing an incendiary device.
There's a reason certain homes and businesses have been attacked in the past month, a Winnipeg gang expert says.
Melanie Nimmo, a faculty member in the school of justice at the University of Winnipeg, says many of the new members of the Rock Machine in Winnipeg battling with the Red Lined Support Crew, who are affiliated with the Hells Angels, are former Zig Zag members.
"There's some old beefs there … so it's not just business. There's some personal vendettas that may likely be going on," Nimmo said. Because the attacks are targeted at gang members or businesses with connections to gangs, Nimmo said, the general public shouldn't be worried about becoming victims.
But Mayor Sam Katz says people understandably are concerned.
"When you hear it on the radio, see it on TV, read it in the newspaper, you should be concerned," the mayor said Thursday. "And I think it's important to make sure the public is aware."
He said the city is responding to the situation by adding resources to the Winnipeg Police Service's gang unit.
Morrison has also been charged with possessing explosives while prohibited.
Stodgell is also charged with arson for Sunday's firebomb attack on DC Automotive shop on St. Mary's Road.
The two incidents are part of a wave of violence that police have attributed to a turf war between the Rock Machine and Hells Angels biker gangs.
The attack at DC Automotive was the first of four firebombs between Sunday and Wednesday.
Hours after the auto shop was hit, a residence on Royal Avenue in West Kildonan also was targeted the same day.
Then on Tuesday afternoon, a home on Mighton Avenue in the city's Elmwood neighbourhood was left with scorch marks where a molotov cocktail shattered on the stucco siding. That same house was the target of a police weapons raid last fall.
The Winnipeg Police Service on Wednesday listed 13 recent incidents that are part of the biker war:
- Fire – June 14, 1800 block of Logan Avenue.
- Shots fired – June 26, 100 block of Mighton Avenue.
- Shots fired – June 27, 1500 block of Roy Avenue.
- Shots fired – June 28, 100 block of Canberra Road.
- Shots fired – June 29, 100 block of Stranmillis Avenue.
- Firearm located – June 29, 100 block of Kingston Row.
- Male shot – July 4, 100 block of Taft Crescent.
- Fire – July 6, 1800 block of Logan Avenue.
- Fire – July 10, 200 block St. Mary’s Road.
- Fire – July 10, 200 block of Royal Avenue.
- Fire – July 11, 1700 block of King Edward Street.
- Fire – July 12, 100 block of Mighton Avenue.
- Fire – July 13, 100 block of Osborne Street.
The biker conflict is all about a battle for "supremacy" of the local drug trade, said police service spokesman Const. Jason Michalyshen.