New Brunswick

Bacchus bikers move out of Saint John clubhouse

The Bacchus Motorcycle Club was moving out of its Saint John headquarters on Thursday morning, following an order from the Saint John Fire Department.

City issues 'do not occupy' order

Bacchus Motorcycle Club members moved out of their Pitt Street location voluntarily on Thursday. (Connell Smith/CBC)

The Bacchus Motorcycle Club was moving out of its Saint John headquarters on Thursday morning, following an order from the Saint John Fire Department.

Saint John police obtained a "do not occupy" order from the fire marshal's office for the clubhouse, located at 58 Pitt St., in the city's south end, said Const. Keith Copeland, of the major crime unit.

The move comes on the heels of the club's president, Matthew Thomas Foley, being charged with second-degree murder in the Saturday shooting death of Michael Thomas Schimpf, 31.

Schimpf was gunned down on Pitt Street, not far from the clubhouse.

"After we effected our search warrants for the crime scene here, we invited in other city departments to inspect the facilities to make sure we could find reasons for these people to move on," said Copeland, one of four officers watching from across the street as the Bacchus members moved out.

Inspectors found "various deficiencies" under "various acts," Copeland said. The Bacchus club members were told they couldn't live there until all of the deficiencies were addressed, he said.

"We were also working towards securing SCAN legislation — Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods — to permanently remove them from the property," said Copeland.

"We told them we were going to use every means possible to remove them from this area and as a result of that, they are moving voluntarily. We haven't evicted them."

Bacchus signs, such as this one, were being removed from the clubhouse. (CBC)

Several people dressed in Bacchus clothing were loading furniture into a large moving truck parked in front of the clubhouse Thursday and removing Bacchus signs from the building.

"We've done surveillance on them and we have a lot of intelligence on them," said Copeland. "We know who they are and they know who we are," he said, adding he did not anticipate any problems.

"I would think the residents would be pleased to see this occur and there shouldn't be any issues."

Criminal Intelligence Service Canada considers Bacchus an outlaw motorcycle gang.

The motorcycle club is suspected of being a front for the Hells Angels in Atlantic Canada.

Investigators do not believe Schimpf's death is connected to any organized crime or gang activity.

Several rounds were fired from a handgun, police have said.

On Wednesday, police recovered a handgun they believe may have been used in the shooting from the rocky shore near the Courtenay Bay Causeway.

Over the past few years, the Bacchus has expanded across the Atlantic region, adding chapters in Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador to its long-standing New Brunswick presence.

Last year, police raided the Bacchus clubhouse, based on allegations it housed an illegal bar.

Alcohol, cash and other related items were seized and police suggested the club move.

The property was listed for sale, but was later delisted, with no explanation.