Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Gang associates charged in slayings were out on bail

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Two Winnipeg gang associates were free on bail on other criminal charges when they allegedly stormed into a city home with a handgun and shot six people, three of them fatally, according to court documents obtained by the Free Press.

The revelation is the latest in a long list of examples where police had recently arrested suspects -- or had grounds to do so -- at the time they allegedly committed a violent attack such as murder.

It underscores two major complaints: Police say they lack resources to enforce court orders, and concerned citizens repeatedly question the so-called "catch-and-release" justice system, believing release conditions aren't worth the paper they're written on.

One of the alleged killers, Colton Richard Patchinose, was wanted on two separate arrest warrants for allegedly breaching conditions of his release and failing to appear in court.

The first was issued Feb. 27, the second on March 17. Yet Patchinose remained free until police caught him this weekend after the multiple slaying.

Patchinose, 18, has been identified by police sources as a member of the Indian Posse street gang. He has several tattoos of the gang on his body.

The other adult accused, Howard Russell Roulette, was arrested in November 2007 on charges of assaulting a woman and stealing her backpack. Police immediately released him on a promise to appear in court, despite his history of recent convictions, including a prior breach, a gun charge and an assault, according to documents.

Roulette, 25, was ordered to have no contact with the woman, reside at a home on Wardlaw Avenue and keep the peace. There was no curfew. He has been identified by police sources as being an Indian Posse associate.

The third person charged is a 15-year-old boy, who cannot be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act. He was expected to make his first appearance in court at the Manitoba Youth Centre Tuesday afternoon, but the matter was put over until April 18.

Defence lawyer Ryan Rolston said he had no plans to make a bail application for his client anytime soon, and had no idea yet how his client will plead to the first-degree murder and attempted -murder charges.

The youth, who's suspected to have taken part in the shooting to limit the older gang members' exposure to punishment, remains in custody.

At least some of the victims who were shot and targeted Saturday at 1398 Alexander Ave. were members of the rival Central gang, which used to be known as Deuce in the city.

Police and justice sources say there are growing hostilities between the two gangs over control of "turf" for selling drugs.

There are also brewing hostilities involving the Mad Cowz gang, which is composed largely of recent African immigrants to the city.

"Everyone is paranoid, carrying bear mace and guns," a source who works closely with at-risk youth in the community told the Free Press Tuesday.

Much of the tension is being blamed on the rapid fall of the Hells Angels, who despite their criminal ways, brought a sense of order to the streets.

Two major undercover sting operations in as many years have seen many of the local bikers arrested, jailed and convicted.

Sources say that's left other street gangs fighting for control of lucrative drug profits, often with deadly results. Just last week, there were three drive-by shootings in the North End in the days preceding the triple slaying. Although no arrests were made, they're all believed to be gang-related.

Despite confirmation by high-level justice sources and those connected to the gang community that a violent war between Winnipeg street gangs is ramping up, police still refuse to confirm the problem exists.

In an update Tuesday on last weekend's homicides, police were still holding to their view none of the victims had gang affiliations and that the attack was not gang-related.

"We're not speaking to whether (what happened) is gang-related violence; we don't want the public to be alarmed that that is the nature of what is going on in the streets of Winnipeg right now," police spokeswoman Patrol Sgt. Sandra Martin said.

Martin told reporters that while the killings weren't completely random and there's evidence it was a targeted event, the working motive for the savage attack is not being released to the public.

Police said two of the three accused fired guns, but first-degree murder and attempted-murder charges have been laid against all three.

Asked how three alleged assailants could be charged with murder when there were only two shooters, police wouldn't say.

james.turner@freepress.mb.ca

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Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 2, 2008 $sourceSection$sourcePage

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