A member of the public was responsible for giving a senior Maitland Gladiators motorcycle gang member the lift to hospital that may have saved his life.
A police spokeswoman told the Newcastle Herald last night that 56-year-old Frank Van Der Kroft – shot multiple times in the chest and stomach on Sunday in a daylight attempt on his life – flagged down a passing driver who rushed him to Cessnock Hospital.
Police refuse to rule out rival gang members
She said it appeared the good samaritan left the bikie leader at the hospital and did not stop to speak to police.
Hunter Valley crime manager Detective Inspector Trent King said investigators had not ruled out a rival outlaw motorcycle gang being responsible for the shooting.
Nor had they ruled out the possibility of a retaliation attack, although Inspector King said there was nothing to indicate a reprisal would follow.
Police established a crime scene on a quiet stretch of Wine Country Drive at North Rothbury on Sunday afternoon after Mr Van Der Kroft, believed to be the Gladiators’ Maitland chapter president, arrived at Cessnock Hospital with multiple gunshot wounds.
He was transferred later to John Hunter Hospital where he was listed last night as in a stable condition with non-life threatening injuries.
Specialist police have examined the scene at North Rothbury, where a lone black motorcycle stood on the side of Wine Country Drive, and another at Majors Lane, Keinbah, where a burnt-out silver sedan was found.
Inspector King would not officially confirm the victim’s identity but said he was from Pelton and a member of the Gladiators outlaw motorcycle gang.
He said it was too early to determine a motive for the shooting.
‘‘Obviously its early on in the investigation,’’ Inspector King said.
‘‘But at this stage we’re exploring all avenues in relation to how this incident occurred and why it occurred.’’
The possibility that a rival bikie gang was responsible had not been excluded from the investigation.
‘‘But at this stage there’s nothing to indicate it’s been an incident that’s involved any other gang,’’ Inspector King said.
Police were also aware of possible retaliation and the State Crime Command’s Gang Squad was assisting Hunter Valley detectives.
‘‘There’s certainly nothing to indicate that at this stage, but as I said, it’s early in the investigation and we’re looking at all possible scenarios that may come,’’ Inspector King said.
Members of the Gladiators were also helping police with their inquiries.
It was hoped these discussions would help establish why Mr Van Der Kroft was on the road at the time yesterday.
Inspector King said he could not confirm reports of a group bikie ride, but did say motorcycle club members were nearby at the time.
When asked about reports that bikies were gathering at the hospital, Inspector King said Gladiator members had been to John Hunter Hospital to visit Mr Van Der Kraft.
‘‘Obviously safety of the public is paramount for police,’’ he said.
‘‘There’s nothing to suggest that the members of the OMCG [outlaw motorcycle gang] that are at the John Hunter are doing anything untoward at the moment.
‘‘I know a number of them have visited the victim.
‘‘And as I said, we’re there to ensure the safety of everybody at the hospital. Certainly they’ve co-operated with us at this stage.’’
Mr Van Der Kraft was not under police guard, but police were speaking to him yesterday.
Police are yet to confirm whether Mr Van Der Kraft was shot where his bike was found or at another site.
‘‘We haven’t ruled out the injuries occurring elsewhere or at that location at this stage until we get further forensic evidence,’’ Inspector King said.
Anyone with information about the incident should contact Crime Stoppers on 1800333000.