Sheriff expects ‘war’ to erupt between rival biker clubs

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Authorities outside Tampa, Florida, are hoping they can stop a potential war between rival motorcycle clubs after a local leader was murdered on Thursday night.

Three suspects were arrested on Friday and charged in the slaying of Paul Anderson, the 44-year-old president of a local chapter of the Outlaws motorcycle club, according to Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco.

The president of a rival club, the 69ers, reportedly tapped on the window of Anderson’s truck while it was stopped at a red light and then opened fire, killing the man, according to a report published on Saturday in Time.

“Are we trying to prevent a war? We’re always trying to prevent violence. Do we expect it’s going to happen? Absolutely,” Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco told reporters on Friday.

The situation is eerily reminiscent of what took place in Waco, Texas, in 2015 when a running gun battle erupted between rival motorcycle club members in a restaurant. Nine people were killed and 177 were arrested, according to the Waco Tribune-Herald.

“We don’t take it lightly because we know what it means,” Nocco said at a press conference on Friday. “There will be more violence.”

He further noted that a conflict between the 69ers and the Outlaws could quickly escalate due to the nature of the groups.

“History demonstrates that when these types of clubs go into battle with each other, they bring people in from other parts of the country,” Nocco said. “We’re on our toes right now. We’re waiting to see what happens, how this escalates.”

At Friday’s press conference, Nocco asked residents to report any unusual or suspicious behavior, adding that it’s important that they ignore stereotypes about motorcycle gang members. Many of them look like regular citizens.

“Don’t be disillusioned,” he said. “There’s a lot of professionals in these groups. They’re lawyers, there are professionals of public safety unfortunately that are involved in these groups. There are people that have 9-to-5 jobs — they’re in hospitals, they’re nurses.”

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