By Tom Lehman 5:33pm, May 14, 2014 - Updated 10:41am, May 15, 2014
The Thunderguards clubhouse is located on the 2800 block of Northeast Boulevard in Wilmington. (Amy Cherry/WDEL File)The Thunderguards Motorcycle Club headquarters in Northeast Wilmington will be shuttered Thursday after the group agreed to temporarily vacate the property on Wednesday.
WDEL's Tom Lehman reports.
The clubhouse, located on the 2800 block of Northeast Bouelvard, was the subject of a lawsuit filed by the state justice department under the nuisance abatement law. The motion aimed at shutting the group's Wilmington headquarters.
The lawsuit claims at least 15 shootings, including five homicides, happened at that site in the past eight years and an adjacent parking lot and nearby storage units are used for criminal activity.
Attorney General Beau Biden and the city had requested an emergency injunction ordering club members to immediately vacate the properties while the lawsuit is litigated because of the ongoing and violent activity on-site.
A hearing on that emergency petition was set for Thursday in New Castle County Superior Court, but since the Thunderguards agreed to immediately vacate the property on a temporary basis, that hearing has been canceled.
Despite agreeing to close the clubhouse, Kurtis Davis, the club's national pastor said the group will continue fight to reopen its headquarters.
"We still adamantly deny and electively stand our ground in saying that those incidents had nothing to do with us," Davis said.
Davis said the group also met with Williams on Tuesday before agreeing to shut down, temporarily. He also said members and the club's attorneys had met with the justice department.
"We are happy that we are continuing to build out case and let people understand and know that we are not these bullies, and we are not these people that are predicating violence and encouraging violence in this city," he said.
The clubhouse has been ordered closed at 5 p.m. Thursday until a hearing later this year determines its permanent status.
Neither Wilmington Mayor Dennis Williams or Biden could be reached for comment beyond written statements issued on Wednesday.
"For years, violent crimes, including multiple shootings and homicides, have been committed at the Thunderguards Motorcycle Club clubhouse, The closure of the clubhouse is not only good for the City, it is also good for the citizens living in or near the neighborhood," Williams said.
A spokesman for Biden said the attorney general could not comment further because of the hearing, scheduled to occur this fall.
"Today's action accomplishes our first goal of immediately closing the property to protect the safety of the public. Over the next several weeks we will closely monitor this property in order to hold the defendants accountable to their obligations and we'll continue to prepare for a hearing later this year to determine the permanent status of the site," Biden said in a statement.
Other terms of the court order include:
- The Thunderguards may not permit anyone to enter or remain on any part of its portion of the property while it remains closed.
- During that time period, the Thunderguards shall hold no meetings on the property and cannot rent, lease or permit any events to be held on the property.
- The club will be responsible for securing the property and making efforts to obtain video monitoring and increased lighting on its portion of the property and for contacting police to report any suspicious behavior.
- Only the club's president and vice president will be allowed to be at the group's portion of the 2800 block of Northeast Boulevard on weekdays between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. for maintenance and physical repairs to the property, removing any accumulated trash and debris and removing high grass and weeds.
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