Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Slain man's mom speaks

Family pleads for end to gangland violence

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THE mother of a man shot dead in what police say was gang revenge broke her silence yesterday and pleaded for an end to the violence which claimed her youngest son.

In an exclusive interview with the Free Press on the steps of her Churchill Drive home last night, a tearful Diane Tokarchuk said she doesn't want other parents to experience her kind of loss.

"As a parent, that uncertainty of wondering where a child has gone is probably the worst feeling you can experience," she said.

Kevin Tokarchuk, 24, was gunned down in the garage of the family's bungalow Monday night and died of a single shot to the head.

Police have made no arrests, but believe the young man was killed in retribution for the May 12, 2002 killing of Hells Angels associate Trevor Savoie.

Kevin's older brother, Daniel Tokarchuk, has been charged with second-degree murder in that case and is in jail awaiting trial.

Diane Tokarchuk said last night her family isn't looking for the same kind of vengeance police believe her son's killer was seeking.

"I don't wish ill will on anybody. But an innocent life has been taken. What they set out to do, they accomplished," she said.

"I always thought turf wars were just between gang members. I guess they now involve something else."

Tokarchuk, surrounded by her husband and several friends and family members, said the past two days have been a blur.

"I don't know what this house is going to be like without Kevin," she said.

Tokarchuk said she has already spoken with other victims of crime and said a recent spate of killings in the city -- including the downtown beating death of a city teen on Sunday -- are senseless.

"People have to work to give the city back to the people of Winnipeg," she said.

Tokarchuk added she has spoken with her son, Daniel, from his jail cell but didn't want to discuss details of the conversation.

She is battling a myriad of emotions.

"Do you know what it's going to be like, to have to sit through the murder trial of one son, and then a trial for whoever killed my other son?" she asked.

"I know my children have to leave, but not like this."

The family spent most of yesterday finalizing funeral arrangments for Kevin, who will be buried tomorrow. A service will be held at 2 p.m. at Sturgeon Creek United Church.

Meanwhile, city police said yesterday they face a daunting task in trying to track down who was responsible for the killing.

"The investigation is at a very early stage, but it's clear to us that it will be a long and complicated case," said Winnipeg police homicide unit Staff Sgt. Jim Thiessen.

Tokarchuk was apparently shot once in the head by someone hiding near his home. He died in hospital.

A big reason police believe the killing was retribution was that Tokarchuk was slain exactly one year to the day after Savoie's slaying.

Savoie is a member of the Zig Zag Crew, who are the street enforcers for the Hells Angels. The Zig Zag Crew, along with an allied gang known as LHS (Loyalty, Honour, Silence), are currently embroiled in a turf war with a rival drug cartel that controls a large part of the cocaine dial-a-dealer trade in Winnipeg.

The two groups are vying for control of the sale of cocaine, crack cocaine, ecstasy and marijuana. Police estimate there are about 20 cocaine dial-a-dealers operating in the city, each handling up to 1,500 phone orders a month.

A group of men visited Savoie's grave Monday evening, toasting it with champagne.

Police sources believe that Tokarchuk, who had been trained to be an industrial arts teacher and who did not have a criminal record, was killed to send a message throughout the drug underworld that no one is immune from the Hells Angels network.

"You are not going to see them back down," a police source said. "I don't think people realize what it means to have the Hells Angels in this city. This is a huge public issue.

"We think the violence is going to continue. It will be an ongoing problem, and it will tax police resources."

Only one of six gang-related killings that have occurred in the Winnipeg area in the past six years has been solved.

Thiessen said detectives have also been working around the clock trying to solve Sunday's early-morning beating death of 19-year-old Johndrick Tan outside a downtown nightclub.

Thiessen said investigators are making progress on the case, but are not in a position to lay charges. Tan was apparently beaten severely by a group of men before a city paramedic unit intervened.

"It has been a steady marathon here," Thiessen said. "I don't know if there is an end in sight."

Anyone with information on either case is asked to call detectives at 986-6508.

Tan and Tokarchuk's slayings were the seventh and eighth homicides in Winnipeg this year. There were 21 homicides in Winnipeg last year.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 15, 2003 $sourceSection$sourcePage

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