You could call it a hazard of the trade.
Death threats are just one of those things Law Enforcement Officer’s have to contend with when they swear an oath to serve and protect. I doubt I could accurately recall how many times hardened street thugs or street gang members have threatened to kill me, my wife or my children. WPS history dictates we can’t afford to dismiss or ignore these kinds of threats, not when criminals are prepared to bring the fight to your front door.
(In February 2002 during the dark of night, a WPS Officer’s personal vehicle was firebombed at her home. A few days later her front window was smashed and Police located a molotov cocktail on her front lawn.)
The threats have to be taken even more seriously when they come from a gangster with a lust for guns and a propensity to use them. That story was told by Mike McIntyre yesterday in an article titled, “Violent Killer Found Guilty of Uttering Threat to Detective.”
It was a story that hit close to home as I worked closely with the Officer in question for over three (3) years.
That violent killer is a well-known Winnipeg gangster Garrett Alexander Gamble (28), a former Grant Park High School student and talented football player with tremendous potential had he stayed on a righteous path. Unfortunately Gamble fell prey to the false promise of gang life and the lure of guns, drugs and fast money.
Gamble got caught on a May 2012 Police wire tap running his mouth to his mother and grandmother as he railed against his bitter rival Detective Sergeant John O’Donovan who he constantly called that, “Little Irish fuck.”
“You don’t think I don’t know where he lives, where his family lives? I should go and put one in his fucking kids. I should go and grab his wife, or burn his house down. I have the resources to fuck with them. I’ll cause havoc. I’m not fucking playing games,” Gamble said during one of his rants that was played in court.
Gamble plead not guilty to the charges and tried to convince Judge Michel Chartier that he wasn’t serious and was just blowing off steam. Chartier didn’t buy it, “The language used was vile, and the words spoken were with an air of revenge,” Chartier said as he convicted Gamble of the charge.
Gamble was subsequently sentenced to four (4) years in prison on the charge to be served concurrent to an eighteen (18) year term he recently caught for a 2008 Second Degree Murder conviction. The murder occurred only a few short weeks after Gamble had been released on parole after serving a prison term for busting a cap outside of the Charleswood Motor Hotel in January of 2006. The bullet fired in that incident narrowly missed an employee working in a bakery across the street.
Although O’Donovan undoubtedly takes Gambles threats seriously, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear him say, “Hey Garrett, take a number.”
That’s because death threats are nothing new to the salty Irishmen.
In 2006, O’Donovan was a central figure in an investigation that resulted in the seizure of an impressive haul of guns, drugs and stolen goods after he obtained criminal code search warrants for properties belonging to two nefarious members of the criminal underworld. Among other goods, Police seized;
- nineteen (19) Sten machine guns
- fifty (50) rifles
- thousands of rounds of ammunition
- over $200,000 worth of stolen goods (ATV’s, Snow Machines, Front End Loaders, Automobiles)
- over one (1) kilo of cocaine
- one and a half (1.5) pounds of marihuana
The arrests and seizures were lauded by WPS Superintendent Gord Schumacher who held a press conference commenting, “This is an incredible array of firearms, this is a tremendous job and we’re happy to see these weapons off the streets. This is a substantial hit to organized crime.”
Schumacher was bang on, the untold human casualties undoubtedly avoided by the seizure of these weapons will never be fully known or appreciated.
What wasn’t widely reported was the fact that O’Donovan was the victim of serious death threats from the gangsters associated to the investigation. These guys were serious players, the kind of people who can pack your car with explosives and make you vaporize with the turn of an ignition key.
What the gangsters didn’t know was cops like O’Donovan simply can’t be deterred by threats, no matter how serious, malicious or credible they might be. Police Officers like O’Donovan are just to goal oriented and committed to public safety to be intimidated by gangsters and thugs.
In fact, in all the years I knew O’Donovan I only saw him get rattled on one occasion.
It was during an investigation into the criminal activities of a seasoned graduate from the Stony Mountain Penitentiary. The suspect was a prolific criminal who specialized in victimizing senior citizens by breaking into their homes and stealing their credit cards. He would then go out on glutinous shopping sprees until the hot credit cards got declined.
I believe it was in October of 2006 when O’Donovan obtained a search warrant for the suspects room in a River Heights rooming house. After entering the suspects bachelor pad O’Donovan started to conduct his meticulous search for evidence. After only a couple of minutes, O’Donovan made a troubling discovery. It was an improvised sex toy made with a wooden handle with a large orb affixed to the end with duct tape. Upon closer examination, O’Donovan realized the IST (Improvised Sex Toy) had been recently used and was covered in feces.
(No doubt a bad habit the offender picked up in the penitentiary.)
As he gazed around the room O’Donovan suddenly realized the entire room was literally smeared with shocking amounts of excrement. Like a WWII soldier retracing his steps after unwittingly entering a mine field, O’Donovan gingerly withdrew from the room. After exiting the den of iniquity, the shell-shocked Police veteran realized his brand new shiny shoes were profoundly contaminated.
Upon his return to the Police Station a traumatized O’Donovan quickly discarded his shoes in favour of paper “booties” normally reserved for rapists, murderers and other serious offenders. After donning the “booties” I had to admit, O’Donovan looked more like a cartoon character than a seasoned Police Detective. As I recall, members of the office paparazzi couldn’t resist snapping a few photo’s for future considerations.
The entire episode was priceless.
The offender subsequently faced a number of charges ranging from Robbery to Break, Enter & Theft, Fraud, Fraud Use of Credit Card and Possess Goods Obtained by Crime.
I’d never seen O’Donovan so committed to an investigation or the prosecution that followed.
After completing a successful tour of duty in the Homicide Unit O’Donovan transferred to the Warrant Apprehension Unit where he continues to relentlessly pursue some of Manitoba’s worst criminal offenders.
He was recently promoted to the rank of Sergeant.
A promotion that was richly deserved.