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Man charged in parking-lot shooting

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A Winnipeg man recently bailed out of jail to a supervised drug-treatment program has been accused by police of trying to kill two gang associates in a drug deal gone wrong.

Tyler Kowal, 26, is charged with two counts of attempted murder and a slew of serious gun-related charges in connection with a Dec. 22 evening shooting in the the parking lot of the Crystallite apartment block on Partridge Avenue in West Kildonan.

Police allege Kowal and another suspect went to do a drug deal with two men in a vehicle, but it turned violent.

A Glock 9-millimetre pistol — a restricted firearm in Canada — was produced and fired, said police. A bullet struck and wounded the driver.

The suspects and another occupant of the vehicle fled on foot. The vehicle proceeded forward, striking a number of parked cars before coming to a stop.

The injured driver, 23, was rushed to hospital in critical condition but was later upgraded to stable.

Court records show the two victims of the attempted murder charges have ties to the Manitoba Warriors gang.

Police also accused Kowal of taking part in a Dec. 27 armed afternoon home invasion on Boyd Avenue that saw a man and woman assaulted and robbed of cash and drugs.

According to police, a hammer and baseball bat were used in the attack. The injuries inflicted on the victims were non-life-threatening, police said.

Kowal was arrested Thursday in the area of Camiel-Sys Street in the St. Boniface Industrial Park with help from the police helicopter.

In addition to the charges from the shooting and home invasion, police said Kowal was wanted on four outstanding arrest warrants and was in possession of an amount of Percocet pills.

The powerful painkiller contains a mixture of highly-addictive oxycodone and acetaminophen.

Kowal has long struggled with an addiction to the drug, his lawyer told court at an Oct. 18 hearing.

Judge Marva Smith ultimately agreed to release Kowel to a supervised bail program through the John Howard Society — a program he's now accused of absconding from.

The residential program was to include frequent Narcotics Anonymous meetings and a four-month-long regimen of half-day-long intensive drug treatment sessions.

Prosecutors opposed Kowal's release, citing the potential likelihood he'd reoffend or present a danger to public safety.

Kowal is still facing trial on assault, mischief and vehicle-theft charges laid against him in early September. He's presumed innocent of all charges he currently faces.

"For a long time now, he's had a serious drug addiction to the point where he would do 60 Percocets a day," Aaron Braun told Smith, who agreed Kowal "needs to be better in confrontational situations."

It was disclosed in court last March that Kowal was one of just a handful of adults being supervised by the Winnipeg police auto-theft unit while in the community.

After pleading guilty March 6, 2013 to uttering threats, assault and driving while disqualified, Judge Mary Kate Harvie ordered Kowal to serve three years of supervised probation on top of 90 days time served.

The conditions of his probation order — which doesn't expire until March 2016 — bar him from ingesting any illegal drugs.

"You've basically checked the box on every offence there is," Harvie told Kowal, referencing his criminal record.

Police are continuing to investigate the attempted murder and home-invasion cases. Kowal remains in custody at the Winnipeg Remand Centre.

james.turner@freepress.mb.ca

History

Updated on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 2:19 PM CST: Adds details on suspect's background.

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