Shooting near Thunderguards club adds to growing tension

Supporters of the Thunderguards Motorcycle Club say a shooting reported Sunday night only adds to the misperception and bad reputation the club has been given by law enforcement.

According to Wilmington police, no one was injured after shots were fired just before 4 a.m. on the 2800 block of Northeast Boulevard in Wilmington.

The club had been hosting a function when an unknown suspect pulled up in front of the club and discharged multiple rounds in the direction of the clubhouse before fleeing the scene.

“It’s ironic that the police put out a press release about a shooting that didn’t occur on the grounds of the Thunderguards Club, didn’t occur in the compound, nor was the intended target anywhere on the grounds of the Thunderguard,” said Pastor Derrick Johnson during a rally in front of the Louis Redding City/County Building Monday morning.

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Tension has been building among the motorcycle club and city and state officials after Attorney General Beau Biden’s office filed a lawsuit last month to shutdown the club.

“Shutting down and cleaning up crime-infested properties makes Delaware communities safer and stronger,” Biden said in a statement at the time of the lawsuit filing.

Dozens of bikers and Thunderguards supporters rallied against the lawsuit outside the New Castle County Courthouse in downtown Wilmington on Saturday.

“We believe they’ve been profiled and scapegoat and that the blame for the murders in the city of Wilmington has been placed squarely at their feet as a magicians trick,” Johnson said.

According to Biden’s office, the property located on the city’s East Side, has been the site of 15 shootings and five homicides in the past eight years.

Johnson noted that the “night club” portion of the motorcycle club has “had some problems” but that the Thunderguards Motorcycle Club is an organization that performs charitable services for the community, including toy drives for children at Christmas.

“We think it’s appalling that these kind of resources and these kinds of tax dollars are spent to bully a club, an organization like that and target bikers, rather than face the ugly reality of the violence in our inner cities,” Johnson said.

Johnson said they hope to talk to Mayor Dennis Williams one on one.

“Without his director of Parks and Recreation, without others we believe are counterproductive, without administration members that we believe are negative.”

Mayor Williams stood behind the AG’s office during the lawsuit filing last month.

“Despite the many arrests and enforcement efforts, this property has plagued the community with continued violent criminal activity for years,” Williams said. “We can no longer allow the criminal actions of a few to jeopardize the safety and quality of life for the residents in our neighborhoods.”

Johnson said they’ll continue to protest the lawsuit peacefully.

“It will stay peaceful as long as the government recognizes our right to assemble peacefully,” Johnson said. “I’ll tell you, the helicopters and the tear gas bags and the show of force is a bit unsettling because it lends itself to provocation.”

The hearing regarding the club will be held in Superior Court on Thursday.

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