More than 300 mourners packed a Maple Ridge church Saturday to remember slain Hells Angel Chad Wilson.
Some members of the notorious biker gang and their support clubs arrived on Harleys — many of which had temporary one-day insurance to attend the service at the Maple Ridge Alliance Church on Dewdney Trunk Road.
Others, like senior Vancouver member and sometimes spokesman Rick Ciarniello, arrived by cars or limousine.
Police from the B.C. Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit, the Vancouver Police Department and various RCMP detachments were also on hand, monitoring the event and photographing those in attendance.
Wilson, 43, was a member of the Surrey-based Hardside chapter when he was found shot to death under the Golden Ears Bridge in Maple Ridge on Nov. 18.
The Integrated Homicide Team has not disclosed a motive for Wilson’s death beyond a link to his membership in a criminal organization.
Postmedia has learned that investigators are looking at the possibility his death resulted from an internal dispute within the Hells Angels. Wilson, with a long history in the drug trade, also had many others who could have wanted him dead.
While a member of the San Diego “Dago” chapter of the Hells Angels in 2006, he injured several members of the Outlaws in a shootout in South Dakota. He was later acquitted on attempted murder charges but pleaded guilty to being an alien in possession of a firearm.
Once released from jail, Wilson returned to B.C. and joined the Haney Hells Angels chapter. He was convicted in Spain several years ago of importing a tonne of cocaine into the country.
Again, he returned to B.C., later splitting from the Haney chapter and joining the new Hardside group.
His Hardside brothers handed out arm bands that said “in memory of Chad,” as well as black T-shirts with his image on the front and “forever Bumps” on the back.
B.C. Hells Angels were joined by bikers wearing HA patches from Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, P.E.I. and New Brunswick.
Former B.C. resident Damion Ryan, a Hells Angel in Greece, came from Europe for the service, arriving with a scarf masking his face. Ryan wore a “Filthy Few” patch on the front of his camouflage vest — which normally indicates a biker’s role as an enforcer.
Police say Canadian Hells Angels are banned from wearing that patch.
With Ryan was another B.C. man, Andreas Terezakis, whose father Tony was convicted in 2006 of trafficking drugs in the Downtown Eastside and brutally assaulting addicts who owed him money. The younger Terezakis wore a Greek Hells Angels vest to the funeral with the bottom “rocker” patch only, indicating he is a prospective member of Ryan’s chapter.
Also at the service were members of support or puppet clubs, including the Throttle Lockers from the Okanagan, the Devil’s Army from Campbell River, the Langford Savages, the Teamsters’ Horsemen, Surrey’s Shadow Club, the Jesters and the Veterans MC.
Newer support clubs were also present, like the Street Reapers of Fort Langley, the Lynchmen and the Dirty Bikers.
One Throttle Locker member wore a sticker on his helmet that said “shoot informants, not drugs.”
Maple Ridge Alliance Church Pastor Neil Penner said he was surprised at how many people attended the service. He said the church welcomes anybody who wants to respectfully worship.
“They have great respect for the church,” he said, of those who attended Wilson’s funeral.
Asked why he would welcome the Hells Angels, Penner said: “I take any opportunity to help people.”
After the funeral, the bikers rode over the same bridge under which Wilson was found dead to attend a wake at the Hardside’s Surrey clubhouse. Again police followed to keep watch.
Sgt. Brenda Winpenny said officers monitored Saturday’s events because “outlaw motorcycle gangs are a priority for CFSEU.”
“The murder of Chad Wilson was significant and we expected there to be in excess of 300 bikers at his funeral,” she said.
“As we know from past investigations, some members of the Hells Angels are involved in drugs, weapons and violence-related offences. Therefore, CFSEU had a number of our uniformed gang enforcement team and other team members present to gather intelligence and assist our policing partners in ensuring public safety.”