Five people have been charged after an eight-month investigation into a group of motorcyclists who police said were seen driving recklessly on the streets of the Greater Toronto Area and involved in a collision last summer that left one person dead.
Ontario Provincial Police said a group of motorcyclists were travelling together eastbound on Highway 401 near Allen Road in Toronto around 3:30 a.m. July 23, when they were seen “slowing traffic and performing stunts.”
WATCH: 5 people charged in connection with 2 aggressive GTA motorcycling incidents last year. Catherine McDonald reports.
A collision then occurred between several of the riders and a transport truck that resulted in the death of 27-year-old motorcyclist Mauro Bustelo. Police said several other riders then fled the area.
On Sept. 22, a group of motorcyclists were seen pulling similar stunts on Highway 427 near Dundas Street around 10:40 p.m. when a “road rage” incident erupted.
OPP said a vehicle was travelling westbound on Highway 401 in Toronto around 11 p.m. when it tried to pass a group of motorcyclists who were blocking the road.
Sgt. Kerry Schmidt said at the time both parties then exited at Dixie Road in Mississauga following an “interaction” on the highway where the vehicle was damaged. He added the driver then got out of the vehicle and was assaulted by a motorcyclist.
VIDEO: Driver charged following road rage incident in Mississauga (Sept. 22)
Schmidt said a passenger in the vehicle then took the wheel and drove down Dixie Road when the vehicle rolled over on Aerowood Drive and hit a retaining wall following a pursuit by the motorcyclists, who then allegedly fled the area.
The car burst into flames but the driver managed to escape with minor injuries. The driver was then charged with dangerous driving and drug possession.
On Tuesday, OPP executed six search warrants on several locations in the Toronto-area and arrested five individuals in connection with the incidents.
Schmidt said the arrests were made possible by a long-term, in-depth investigation that saw cooperation from 11 different divisions within the OPP across the province.
“The 2017 motorcycle season is upon us and we want to get the message out loud and clear that this type of dangerous activity will not be tolerated,” he said Tuesday.
“These motorcyclists think their in control of the situation but they’re not and sadly Mr. Bustelo paid the ultimate price.”
Mitchell Lees, 33, of Richmond Hill, Ont., was arrested and charged in connection with both incidents. He faces the following charges:
- Dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death
- Two counts of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing bodily harm
- Failing to stop at the scene of an accident
- Dangerous operation of a motor vehicle
The four other suspects arrested in connection with the July 23 incident and the charges they face are as follows:
- Melissa Chircop, 35, of Toronto — dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death and dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing bodily harm.
- Kwesi Ellis, 38, 0f North York — dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death, failing to stop at the scene of an accident and two counts of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing bodily harm.
- Julian Kulak, 32, of Newmarket, Ont. — dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death, failing to stop at the scene of an accident and two counts of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing bodily harm.
- Brandon Rees, 25, of Mississauga — dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death, dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing bodily harm, failing to stop at the scene of an accident and operating a motor vehicle on a highway without insurance.
Police seized four motorcycles and said additional arrests and charges are expected to be laid in the near future. All of the suspects were held for a bail hearing Tuesday in a Toronto court.
With files from David Shum and Erica Vella