Police in Birmingham, Alabama and Atlanta and federal police are investigating multiple, linked, violent confrontations between members of the Outcast and the Wheels of Soul Motorcycle Clubs.
Both clubs are traditional, black, three piece patch motorcycle clubs. According to public statements by police, the ill will between the clubs has resulted in three deaths in the last two weeks.
The dispute started to make headlines last Saturday, August 30, when two men were killed and two others wounded at a party in Birmingham attended by members of the Wheels of Soul and a sport bike club named Showstoppers. The dead Wheels of Soul patch holder is Stevens Hicks. The dead Showstopper is Wilbert Hawkins. Both men were in their late 40s.
According to multiple accounts, members of the Outcast Motorcycle Club surrounded the party and began shooting. An unnamed source told Carol Robinson of the Birmingham News, “They surrounded the place, like they were looking for somebody. They were inside and outside and then it was just shooting. We took off. I just ran. There was a lot of shooting.”
According to police, at least 40 shots were fired.
A second unnamed source told the News, “This stemmed from something that started in Atlanta two weeks ago. Two other motorcycle clubs just happened to bump heads here, and they started shooting everywhere. That’s why so many innocent people were shot.”
Police have publically linked the shooting last Saturday in Birmingham to the murder of a rapper named Bobby Ray Stewart in a Columbus, Georgia nightclub called The Supper Club on August 23. Police have also connected that shooting to the beating of a soldier from nearby Fort Benning in the same nightclub the same night.
This morning, Birmingham police announced that an Outcast Patch holder named James Armstrong was arrested yesterday in suburban Atlanta by the FBI and local police. Armstrong will be charged with murder in Birmingham and is being held in Georgia without bond.
Members of the Wheels of Soul Motorcycle Club wear a one percenter diamond on their vests. The club’s mother chapter is in Philadelphia. According to the FBI, the club has 400 members in 25 states.
Eighteen members of the club were charged with racketeering and various predicate crimes in 2011 after an FBI investigation in St. Louis. The FBI investigation began in 2009. Four more members of the club were charged with racketeering in 2012 after an ATF investigation in Chicago. According to the St. Louis indictment, six members of the Wheels of Soul conspired to kill members of the Outcast MC in January 2011.
Fifteen of the accused men pled guilty to racketeering as part of plea and sentencing agreements. The remaining seven defendants stood trial in October and November 2012 and were found guilty after a jury deliberated for eight days.
The Outcast Motorcycle Club attracted national attention earlier this month when members of the St. Louis chapter rode to nearby Ferguson, Missouri to encourage rioting residents to behave peacefully.