IT started between one-time mates, included a shooting, turned into mass defections, led to a wild street brawl and has festered into highly dangerous tit-for-tat attacks between now feuding gangs.
Welcome to bikie turf wars, Hunter style.
Police remain on high-alert following the latest drive-by shooting on Wednesday morning – an attack on the home of a local enforcer of the Nomads where more than 30 shots were fired into the premises.
Surrounding residents who spoke to Fairfax Media described being awakened by rapid gunfire, possibly a semi-automatic weapon at about midnight.
“It was just pop, pop, pop,” one shaken neighbour said.
“I don’t want to get dragged into it. The main thing is that no one got hurt.”
It is not known if the unit’s occupants were home during the attack.
Another resident, who did not wish to be identified, said she no longer felt safe in the street.
“I was in bed and the next thing I hear is shooting. You don’t know what to expect next,” she said
The shooting followed the attempted firebombing of a Nomad’s clubhouse at Muswellbrook belonging to gang’s Hunter Valley chapter, and drive-by shootings of the Nomad’s headquarters at Islington and the home of a former Nomad, and now Finks gang member, at Metford.
Police attempted to take some ground back on Wednesday, with specialist officers from bikie squad Strike Force Raptor back in the Hunter to search six properties under legislation relating to firearms prohibition orders.
But with no one talking to authorities, frustrated police are turning to intelligence to investigate the shootings and firebombings as the region’s top cop warned of another bikie crackdown.
Northern Region commander Assistant Commissioner Jeff Loy had introduced the Hunter’s own bikie gang squad at the start of the year.
“We are concerned about the use of firearms and the number of drive-by shootings,’’ Mr Loy said on Wednesday.
“We are not just reacting, we are being proactive about this, and we will not be tolerating this sort of violence.
“We are very concerned for the public, we don’t want anyone hurt.’’
The feud is believed to have festered from internal rumblings within the Nomads’ traditionally strong Newcastle chapter, based at the Chin Chen Street premises, over the past few years.
It included a younger brigade of members breaking away from older gang members and setting up a “Newcastle City” chapter before a peace deal was brokered.
There was also the unsolved shooting of one-time Nomads enforcer Matt Eather, who was found dumped in Anna Bay bushland after being “kneecapped” almost a year ago.
Folllowing the April shooting, a number of gang members “patched over” to the rival Finks gang and members who were once close associates had become sworn enemies.
The feud blew up on Thomas Street at Wallsend in December when Finks and Nomads members were involved in a street brawl following taunts across the busy arterial road.
The tit-for-tat attacks continued before a Finks member had his arm broken during an attack at a Kotara gym on the weekend. That night, the Nomads’ clubhouse at Islington, which was gutted during a police raid in November, was targeted in a drive-by shooting.
Police were called and arrested Nomads members Kane Benjamin Tamplin, 26, and Dylan Britliffe, the 32-year-old national vice-president of the Nomads, on an unrelated assault on two men at the Honeysuckle Hotel.
The following night, the home of a former Nomads member, who had patched over the Finks, was peppered with bullets at Metford.
The violence continued on Monday night when the Muswellbrook clubhouse of the Nomads motorcycle club was slightly damaged in an attempted firebombing.
It is understood the Wallsend unit was hit by more than 30 bullets, some which may have been shot from a semi-automatic firearm.
Vice-president of the Maitland-based Gladiators Motorcycle Club Chris “Bones” Bamford refuted suggestions the club was caught up in the recent dramas.
“We are simply not involved; we do not have a problem with either club,” Mr Bamford said on Wednesday. “We also do not do or condone drive-by shootings.”