An inmate who died inside the Brandon Correctional Centre on Sunday was a high-ranking member of the Rock Machine, sources have confirmed to the Free Press.
Jean Paul Beaumont is a long-standing Manitoba biker who previously was linked to the Hells Angels, only to go over to their emerging rival gang last year. He was a key player in several violent incidents during the summer of 2011 and had served as the sergeant-at-arms of the Rock Machine.
Multiple justice sources have told both the Free Press and the Brandon Sun that Beaumont was stabbed to death. He was found unresponsive in his cell by guards.
Police have not officially confirmed the identity of the 39-year-old inmate, who they say died under "suspicious circumstances" just after 10 a.m. Sunday. But a source told the Free Press the victim is Beaumont.
"The causes at this point are unknown," Brandon Police Service Const. Kirby Sararas told the Brandon Sun earlier today.
"Nothing has been ruled out. We can't rule out foul play until the results of the autopsy," Sararas said. "The autopsy will narrow down which way the investigation will go, but right now (the investigators) are treating it as they would any suspicious death. As more information comes to light, (the investigators) will follow that information whichever way it dictates."
Sararas wouldn't say where in the jail the death took place or why the inmate was incarcerated, but did expect more information to be released in the coming days.
"As the investigation progresses and once the autopsy has taken place, we will have more information," Sararas said.
The Hells Angels formed the Redlined Support Crew in 2010 to stand up to other criminal networks that might muscle in on their former drug turf after many of their members were arrested and jailed following a trio of recent undercover police operations. At the top of that list was the Rock Machine, which waged war with the Hells Angels in Quebec during the 1990s but only recently has had much of a presence in Manitoba.
Beaumont was arrested in July 2011 after police conducted video surveillance of his home through a camera they had secretly installed in early May, court was told during a bail hearing. Beaumont had a long criminal record and was charged with repeatedly breaching conditions of his previous bail and probation, including a curfew and driving prohibition.
The hidden camera allegedly caught Beaumont leaving his home and driving away in a vehicle on several occasions.
Crown attorney Mike Desautels filed a detailed report on the city's gang situation with the judge, authored by members of the police organized crime unit, to boost his argument that public safety is at stake. He told court police have been closely monitoring Beaumont, along with other gang members, because of the ongoing tensions in the biker world.
In June 2011, a member of the Redlined gang had a "flare" shot through the window of his Elmwood-area home. The following night, two homes linked to members of the Rock Machine were shot up. Days later, Rock Machine president Joseph Strachan had the St. Vital home he shares with his parents hit by gunfire and Molotov cocktails.
In November 2010, Daniel Kachkan, a former high-ranking associate of the Hells Angels, was shot "execution-style" inside his own home. No arrests have been made in the slaying, which was believed to have been connected to Kachkan's alleged role in a previous homicide.
However, police distributed an internal memo around the time of the killing, warning members of the Rock Machine motorcycle gang are believed to be armed and may be planning attacks against those affiliated with the Hells Angels.