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Bandido massacre from start to finish

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The Bandido Massacre

The True Story of Bikers, Brotherhood and Betrayal

By Peter Edwards

HarperCollins 474 pages, $33

This is a straight-up account of what led to the April 2006 bullet-to-the-head executions of eight bikers in Wayne Kellestine's barn in Shedden, Ont.

Veteran Toronto Star crime reporter Peter Edwards reports it as it happened from the rise of the Bandidos in Canada to the last gunshot.

His work is based on countless interviews with the families and friends of the dead and damning evidence presented at the recent trial of the six killers.

While Alex Caine's earlier-released The Bloody Rise of the Bandidos -- a Canadian bestseller -- threw out unsupported theories on the killings, Edwards writes the Canadian Bandidos turned on their own mostly because they were mouth-breathing cowards who couldn't think straight, let alone shoot.

One of them, lead executioner Wayne Kellestine, was also likely nuts, but not criminally insane.

Three of the six killers are from Winnipeg. A fourth Winnipegger, now known only as M.H. because of a court ban, was also at the killing scene but avoided a murder conviction in exchange for his testimony.

The six were convicted Oct. 29, 2009, after a seven-month trial.

Edwards argues that the eight Toronto Bandidos were shot dead because they stood in the way of Kellestine and Winnipegger Michael (Taz) Sandham's plan to build a Bandido chapter in Winnipeg.

But the plan was formed mostly in Sandham's twisted imagination. With Kellestine in the picture, it became a blood-thirsty power-grab.

Sandham also played a major role in the killings. He shot dead the first victim from his hiding spot in the barn's loft.

Sandham, a former East St. Paul police officer, had big plans for his Bandidos and its puppet club the Los Montaneros.

It didn't matter that most of them didn't have Harley Davidson motorcycles, a prerequisite to be in an outlaw biker club. Sandham also overlooked the fact that outlaw bikers, as a rule, don't accept ex-cops in their ranks.

What's missing, for Winnipeggers at least, is what possessed Sandham to think he could waltz right in and build a Bandidos chapter in Winnipeg under the noses of the Hells Angels.

Granted, the Manitoba Angels chapter suffered some big setbacks at the time. They were the target of a police sting using an undercover agent that locked up their leadership. A more recent sting saw their puppet club the Zig Zag Crew locked up.

How Sandham thought he and his motley bunch of drug dealers and wannabe gangsters could become a more fearsome force to reckon with, only he knows.

Soon after the killings, Edwards writes, Sandham's leadership started to unravel. Those close to him began to see through his bravado for the pipsqueak he was.

One gets the feeling if he hadn't been arrested on the eight murders he easily could have been killed by his own gang.

And that, in a way, is the main theme in Edward's The Bandido Massacre.

In the outlaw biker world, the guy who'll help police send you to prison, or put a bullet in your head, is the fellow biker riding beside you.

Free Press legislative reporter Bruce Owen spent many years covering Winnipeg biker gangs.

 

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 6, 2010 H8

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