Tensions between Manitoba and Saskatchewan members of the same street gang are being blamed for a prison stabbing that has killed one Winnipeg inmate and left another clinging to life.
Now there are fears the deadly dispute could reach beyond bars and spill out onto the streets.
Daniel Richard Wolfe, a co-founder of the Indian Posse street gang, died after a brawl erupted involving at least 10 other inmates inside Saskatchewan Penitentiary, near Prince Albert, Sask., Monday afternoon. Wolfe, 33, was just sentenced last November to life in prison after being convicted of killing two people and injuring three others during a Saskatchewan home invasion. Keith Coutu, 30, is in critical condition after being jumped in the prison attack. The longtime IP member was sentenced to life in prison in 2006 after going on a shooting spree at a Winnipeg house party, killing one man and severely injuring another.
Justice sources told the Free Press Wolfe and Coutu are victims of growing internal gang hostilities and were attacked by Saskatchewan-based members of the Indian Posse who were being held in the same maximum-security range at the federal prison.
Officials say a total of 16 inmates were in the unit, but out of their cells at the time for lunch. All of the prisoners in the area had previously been deemed "compatible" with each other.
"Daniel never indicated to me that he was scared for his safety," his Regina-based lawyer, Estes Fonkalsrud, told the Free Press Tuesday.
A third inmate, whose identity is not known, also suffered serious injuries in the attack. RCMP are continuing their investigation and expect to lay criminal charges later this week. Sources say police in both provinces will be on guard for possible "payback" stemming from Monday's attack.
Last month, eight Manitoba members and associates of the Indian Posse street gang were charged with swarming a 33-year-old inmate and inflicting critical injuries inside Milner Ridge Correctional Centre at Beausejour. Sources say the two incidents are likely not connected. Wolfe and his brother, Richard, created the IP, one of the city's biggest and most violent gangs. It's made up entirely of aboriginal members. The IP has expanded in recent years to Saskatchewan and Alberta.
Wolfe was serving a life sentence with no parole for at least 25 years after being convicted in November 2009 of two counts of first-degree murder and three counts of attempted murder. The attack began with a September 2007 chance encounter between Wolfe and Bernard Percy Pascal, a member of the rival Winnipeg-based Native Syndicate gang, at a bar in Fort Qu'Appelle, Sask. The two exchanged threats and insults about Wolfe's Indian Posse tattoos but parted ways, court was told. After Pascal left the bar with his friends, Wolfe was overheard saying: "They don't know what's coming for them."
Wolfe grabbed a gun and stormed inside a Fort Qu'Appelle home later that night, opening fire.
Michael Itittakoose, 24, was shot six times and died on the floor.
Marvin Arnault, 51, was killed while trying to protect his wife from being hit as she called 911.
Three other men survived -- Pascal was shot nine times, Jesse Obey was hit in the face and torso, while Cordell Keepness suffered three gunshot wounds to his hands and arm. Police said there were a total of 11 people in the house at the time, including many who had no gang ties.
"They're going to give me 25 to life...That's the life of a gangster," Wolfe later told an undercover police officer.
Crown prosecutor Alistair Johnston told Wolfe's sentencing he hoped the case would send a message to young people the life of a gang member is "a short life, full of violence, destruction, sadness and grief."
Wolfe made headlines again when he escaped from the Regina Correctional Centre in August 2008, along with five other inmates, by smashing through a brick wall. Members of the Winnipeg police organized crime unit caught him inside a car in the city's North End three weeks later. Wolfe is originally from The Pas.
He was no stranger to the justice system, having been charged with his first crime at the age of 12. His lawyer said Tuesday Wolfe grew up on the streets in Winnipeg, bouncing from "foster home to foster home" and turned to gangs for a sense of family and protection.
-- With files from Canwest News Service