Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Slaying called gang revenge

Killings exactly one year apart

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THE brother of a man accused of killing a Hells Angels associate was shot to death Monday night as part of a planned gang retribution, police suspect.

The killing of 24-year-old Kevin Tokarchuk occurred precisely a year to the day of the slaying of Zig Zag Crew member Trevor Savoie.

And in a morbid twist, a group of men visited Savoie's grave in St. Boniface Cemetery on Monday evening as Tokarchuk was killed. They decorated Savoie's grave with a bottle of champagne and glasses.

Sgt. Terry Desmond of the Winnipeg police homicide unit said investigators were aware of the late-night "celebration" at the cemetery.

"I won't say how we're aware, but we know about it," Desmond said.

Tokarchuk, an aspiring teacher with a post-secondary education, was shot once in the head, almost to the hour that Savoie was shot on May 12, 2002.

Tokarchuk's older brother, Daniel, is charged with second-degree murder in Savoie's death and is in custody.

Police say Tokarchuk's death is a sign of how violent Winnipeg's underworld has become as groups like the Hells Angels fight each other to protect their drug turf and their reputations.

Police were called to 363 Churchill Dr. at about 8:50 p.m. where they found a severely wounded Tokarchuk. He was rushed to hospital, but died of his injuries. He was shot while working in his parents' garage and was found by his stepfather.

Daniel Tokarchuk, 29, learned of his brother's death while sitting in a jail cell awaiting his own trial for murder.

Defence lawyer Greg Brodsky met for about 30 minutes with his client yesterday afternoon. Brodsky requested that Tokarchuk's location not be publicized for safety reasons.

"He is very, very upset that his brother has been killed, the way his brother has been killed and where his brother got killed," he told the Free Press.

"The significance of this coincidence is not lost on him."

Tokarchuk, along with other family members, declined interview requests yesterday. No one has been arrested in connection with Kevin Tokarchuk's killing.

On May 12 a year ago, Savoie's body was dumped near Oxford Street and Fleet Avenue. Savoie, 25, was a high-level drug dealer with the Zig Zag Crew, a street gang that distributes drugs for the Hells Angels.

His funeral was attended by members of the Zig Zag Crew and the Hells Angels.

Daniel Tokarchuk turned himself in last May 17 and has been in custody since.

After the arrest, police warned there could be retribution.

Insp. Jack Tinsley said Daniel Tokarchuk would likely need protection while he was in jail.

"He would probably be in jeopardy from any associate of the Hells Angels or the Zig Zag Crew who may be incarcerated with him," Tinsley said at the time.

Kevin Tokarchuk was trained at Red River College and the University of Manitoba to be an industrial arts teacher, but he was working as a sales and service representative at Wildwood Motorsports.

RRC instructor Kurt Proctor remembered Tokarchuk yesterday as a bright, eager student.

"He was an original thinker and young at heart," Proctor said. "He was one of the youngest students who went through the program.

"He certainly wanted to become a teacher. He worked hard at it. He was a good student."

Tokarchuk went on to earn his education degree from the University of Manitoba in May 2000. It's not known if he found work as a teacher in Manitoba.

Tokarchuk's mother has lived in the Churchill Drive home for 30 years. Divorced, she raised her three boys pretty much on her own. Now remarried, she still lives in the family home, a single-storey brick and wood bungalow with a beautiful view of the river.

Jack McLaughlin, who started a group to promote tougher penalties for criminals and more police officers after his own son was slain three years ago, was a friend of the Tokarchuk family.

McLaughlin said Kevin was "an average kid" who played sports and had a gift for mechanics. An older brother, Jeff, lives in Calgary, he said.

McLaughlin said he visited the family the night of the shooting and spent most of yesterday with them.

"To lose one son to jail and then to lose another one because of that, it's staggering," he said. "One doesn't know how they can bear the pain."

Several of Winnipeg's recent shootings can be traced to biker and gang activity in the city with a common theme of "an eye for an eye."

In the summer of 2001, the Hells Angels were accused of waging public shoot-outs with members of the Sylvester family after one of their own was shot while his young child sat beside him in a tow truck.

Rod Sweeney survived the ambush, which sparked several other shootings and firebombings aimed mostly at gunman Kevin Sylvester.

Yves Lavigne, a Toronto author of several books on Hells Angels in Canada, called the latest slaying "no coincidence.

"It's a huge twist. Like an Agatha Christie book. It seems like a vengeance killing, but it's a warped one. He was only a relative of the person accused of the other killing."

Lavigne said while the deceased man's brother may have biker connections, the latest slaying isn't a typical biker murder.

"This is not the gang strategy, at all. Their strategy is for a revenge killing as quickly as possible before people forget. This is something completely different and warped.

"Maybe there's someone out there who was frustrated and couldn't get to the accused killer so they decided to get his brother. No killing is normal, but this slaying is totally warped.

"It's the beginning of a long hot summer in Winnipeg."

Lavigne said he doesn't see a message in the slaying.

"This is the working of someone with a very, very twisted mind. Just imagine: this person has been sitting down for a whole year looking at the calendar waiting to kill someone. This was very well plotted. Someone had to follow this man around to find out where he'd be on this given day."

-- With files from David O'Brien, Mike McIntyre and Kevin Rollason


Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 14, 2003 $sourceSection$sourcePage

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