Tacoma police are investigating an area motorcycle club whose after-hour parties twice have ended in shooting deaths in the past eight months.
The most recent death was early Sunday after a fight and then gunfire erupted during a party at a downtown warehouse on South 23rd Street. Bruce D. Price, 40, was killed.
The earlier killing was Aug. 27, when Billy Ray Shirley III, 17, was gunned down after an argument broke out among patrons in a warehouse-style building in the Nalley Valley.
Both shootings remain unsolved, with many patrons fleeing in the chaotic aftermath of the gunfire before police could interview them.
While homicide detectives investigate the shootings, other police commanders are researching the activities of the motorcycle club Global Grinders, and what its after-hours parties involve, police spokesman Mark Fulghum said Monday.
Whether the club faces any sanctions will depend on what the commanders find, he said.
“The priority is the homicide and the previous homicide, but we are looking at all aspects of the overall incidents,” he said. “There are two of them that are closely related.”
After-hours parties like the two involved in the homicides often crop up in out-of-sight locations, city spokesman Rob McNair-Huff said Monday.
“They are doing everything unofficially,” he said of the Global Grinders’ events. “This essentially keeps it out of sight and out of the official process.”
The club doesn’t appear to have had a business license to operate in the city, and its gatherings were not publicly advertised, McNair-Huff said. Unadvertised events are more akin to private parties and don’t fall under the city’s licensing codes, he said.
City officials are reviewing the situation, he said.
So far police have little information on the Global Grinders, Fulghum said. The club is not based in Tacoma but has held its parties in the city, drawing some patrons from outside Pierce County.
The News Tribune was unable Monday to reach anyone connected with the group.
The club had hosted regular after-hours events at the Nalley Valley location with few problems, police said. The club quit holding events there after Shirley’s death.
After the club found the new location on South 23rd Street, word spread and a crowd gathered early Sunday for an after-hours party, Fulghum said. A fight erupted about 4:30 a.m. and spilled out to the alley between Fawcett and Tacoma avenues.
At least one person fired a gun, and Price was hit several times. He died a short time later from his wounds, Fulghum said.
Several people were seen leaving before officers arrived. Organizers had locked up the building and were gone when officers showed up within four minutes of being called, Fulghum said.
Police asked anyone who was at the club or who saw the shooting to contact them.
News of Sunday’s shooting brought anger and a sickening feeling to Shirley’s mother, Shalisa Hayes.
Shirley, her oldest son, had gone to the after-hours party in the 1600 block of Center Street with a couple of friends because one of his buddies thought his mother needed a ride home. She didn’t, and the teens stayed for awhile.
Police gave this account of what happened next:
About 5 a.m., one of the friends got into an argument with another a patron. A fight erupted, and Shirley was punched in the face. He and one of his friends left the building with a throng of other patrons. They realized that one of their friends wasn’t with them and went back inside.
The teens were walking out when Shirley was shot in the back in a dark hallway.
“It’s obvious they didn’t learn the first time around,” Hayes said of the club. “It’s another family that doesn’t know who killed their father, their son, their brother.”
Stacey Mulick: 253-597-8268
HOW TO HELP
Tacoma-Pierce County Crime Stoppers is offering up to $1,000 for information leading to an arrest and charges filed in two homicides at after-hours parties. Tipsters can remain anonymous. Reach Crime Stoppers at 253-591-5959.