West Australian police have launched a major taskforce and raided the clubhouses of rival gangs after senior Rebels bikie Nick Martin was shot dead at a Perth drag racing event.
The 51-year-old was killed in front of members of the public at Perth Motorplex in Kwinana Beach just after 8.30pm local time on Saturday.
Police are believed to be investigating whether he was shot by a sniper.
Fellow Rebels bikie Ricky Chapman, 31, was also wounded and was set to undergo surgery on Sunday to remove a bullet from his arm
That bullet could provide investigators with crucial clues.
An unrelated five-year-old boy sitting on the lap of Martin’s wife was grazed by a bullet fragment but did not require medical treatment.
‘We’ll be coming in force’
The brazen public slaying has sparked fears of a gang war and prompted WA Police to launch operation Rovello, a taskforce comprising more than 100 officers including gang squad and homicide detectives.
“We’re taking the fight back to the gangs in Western Australia,” WA Police Assistant Commissioner Brad Royce told reporters on Monday.
“I can assure you that all gangs, whether they’re involved in this or not, are going to be seeing a lot more attention from WA Police and our partners.
“And I can also assure them if we come, we will be coming in force. We make no apology for that.”
Police believe Martin was under pressure from within his own organisation.
- What’s it like and what’s it mean to be a biker?
- Police will be armed as tension between gangs simmers after Mongrel Mob Member Shooting
- One of the 16 men charged over the attempted hit on Mongols biker Rocco Curra will be released from custody ahead of a potential trial.
- If you’re in a motorcycle club these are the must have communication tools
- The onetime soldier was also the youngest bikie at the Milperra massacre 36 years ago and has seven counts of manslaughter recorded against his name
He had previously been the Rebels’ WA president but detectives are uncertain whether he retained that role at the time of his death.
He was facing charges over financial misconduct at the time of his death and had been bashed by a Hells Angels bikie weeks earlier.
In March 2011, Martin was shot in the arm as he arrived at his Balcatta home on his Harley-Davidson motorcycle.
In 2012 a Rock Machine bikie gang member was sentenced to more than six years in prison over the shooting.
Police had raided a Mongols clubhouse on Sunday, seizing cocaine and charging one patched member with breaching a post-sentence supervision order and another with drug offences.
A 71-year-old Mongols associate was charged with drugs and gun offences after a raid on his Shoalwater property uncovered cannabis plants, a shotgun, four rifles, two firearm silencers and ammunition.
Officers also raided a Hells Angels clubhouse, finding weapons and prescription medication.
Assistant Commissioner Royce said it was far too early in the investigation to identify any potential suspects.
Detectives will work with ballistics and forensics experts to try to determine where the shooter was located.
He declined to comment on whether Martin’s family was cooperating with police.
The McGowan government introduced tough new anti-consorting legislation to parliament earlier this year but the bill stalled in the upper house.
Parliament has now been prorogued ahead of the March election, meaning the bill – which would have enforced a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment – will need to be reintroduced should the government win re-election.
The Liberal opposition has blamed the government for failing to bring the bill on for debate in the upper house until the final weeks of parliament.