BCPD considering gang retaliation as fire motive

The aftermath of a fire at the Avengers Motorcycle Club in Battle Creek. (March 1, 2015)

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (WOOD) — Battle Creek police are looking into whether a suspicious fire at a motorcycle clubhouse may be linked to a dispute with a rival gang.

The fire broke out around 2 a.m. behind the Avengers Motorcycle Club’s house in the 800 block of W. Michigan Avenue near W. South Street.

It started with a back fence and then spread to the building, where it was soon doused. The building did not sustain any significant damage and no one was hurt.

The Battle Creek Police Department says it is investigating whether another gang claiming to be affiliated with the Outlaws may have anything to do with the fire. The Avengers and the Outlaws have a history of rivalry, according to the police chief. Both groups have been classified as gangs by the FBI.

BCPD Major Austin Simons talks to 24 Hour News 8's Heather Walker. (March 1, 2015)
(BCPD Major Austin Simons talks to 24 Hour News 8’s Heather Walker.)

“They can be very dangerous, especially when you got guns, bats,” BCPD Major Austin Simons said.

On Friday, police say, there was a fight at the Outlaws’ clubhouse on N. 20th Street in Springfield.

Several people with pipes and bats beat up individuals and left. Battle Creek police stopped a pickup truck a few blocks away and arrested four men inside who police say are Avengers. They also found guns and marijuana.

Police are still investigating whether the fire may have been retaliation.

There is concern about the gangs’ sizes: The Avengers and Outlaws are both national clubs.

“You could get gang members from across the country and have a big mess here in Battle Creek,” Simons said.

The men arrested on Friday were from North Carolina.

Battle Creek police say they are taking the incident seriously and will not tolerate violence in their city.

“They’re going to be stopped,” Simons said.

He said the public does not need to be concerned.

“We’re dealing with this with the sheriff’s department, and we have other agencies assisting us in dealing with this problem, so we’re going to get right to the bottom of this matter as soon as possible,” Simons said.

No one had been arrested in connection to the fire as of Sunday afternoon.

Investigators will meet Monday morning to discuss the next steps in the case.

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