EDITORIALS

Street Gangs, Murder & Fate – An Odd Combination

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GANG TAGS – PHOTO JGJ

It was Thursday, October 4th, 2013.

I found myself in an awkward situation as I stood in my front yard locking eyes with a hard-core gang banger I’d met during a murder investigation in May of 2000.

(How he came to be standing in my yard will be explained later in the story.)

“I know you,” he said.  “Did you ever work Homicide?”

I immediately felt a surge of apprehension and fear run through my body as I searched my memory banks trying to access the digital face recognition technology I’d developed during a twenty-six (26) year career in Policing.  This scenario happens to be a Police Officers worst nightmare, no cop ever wants to see a known gangster standing in his front yard.  Our homes are our sanctuaries, our place to relax and escape all the madness a career in Law Enforcement entails.  It’s also a place where the people we love reside.  As a result, Police Officers go the extra mile to try to keep their address out of the hands of the criminal element.

If they know where you live, they can get to you and worse yet, they can get to your family.

It was only a matter of seconds before it all came back to me.

“T.M.” I said.

“You remember me,” he said with a sheepish grin on his face.

I remembered him alright.

It was May 27, 2000 when I caught the case.  I was one of two Constables who were fortunate enough to be selected to the WPS Homicide Unit that year, an assignment previously reserved only for those who held the rank of Detective Sergeant and higher.  I came to the unit in January bringing over thirteen (13) years of Police experience with me that included over six (6) years experience in plain clothes investigations.  All that experience aside, I was still cutting my teeth as a Homicide Investigator.

“TM’s” case was the kind of case Police Officers generally refer to as a “shit fest.”  A highly complex set of circumstances complicated by gang involvement and a significant number of victims, witnesses and suspects.

In this case, two rival street gangs crossed paths near the intersection of McPhillips Street and Selkirk Ave when the proverbial shit hit the fan.  Witnesses reported observing up to ten (10) suspects attacking three (3) victims who were punched and kicked until they lay motionless on the cold pavement.  When Police arrived at the scene they located brothers Adrian Scott Bruyere (19) & Nicholas William Bruyere (18), both battered and in critical condition.

Both young men were rushed to Hospital and received emergency treatment.  Unfortunately, Adrian had been stabbed in the lower right side of his torso and died as a result of his injuries.  Although stabbed in the back, bruised and covered in abrasions, Nicholas was treated and released from Hospital.

“TM” (18) was identified as a third victim who somehow managed to run from the scene and make his own way to Hospital before Police arrived at the scene.  He had been stabbed in the lower abdomen area and was also battered and bruised.  He would spend over two (2) weeks in the Hospital recovering from his injuries.  When I first met “TM” he was laying in a hospital bed writhing in pain in a great deal of discomfort.

“TM” was a typical North End Aboriginal gangster, young, tall, lean and soft-spoken.  It always amazed me how shy and reserved the majority of Aboriginal gang members were when you met them outside of their world.  Take away the alcohol, drugs, bro’s and bravado and you were often left with relatively normal kids.  “TM” was no different, in fact, he surprised me with his honesty and candour as he recounted the tragic events.

During our interview “TM” explained he was one of the founding members of a street gang called “Nine-O” and that he held the rank of Vice President.  His close friend Adrian Bruyere was a fellow “Nine-O” gang member while he described Nicholas Bruyere as an associate.  The “Nine-O” and Indian Posse street gangs were bitter rivals and had frequent conflicts over turf.

The investigation revealed that “TM” and the Bruyere brothers were caught “slippin” on Indian Posse turf and were attacked as a result.  The rabid pack of Indian Posse gang members were led by a notoriously violent IP street gang member known as Sheldon Anthony Mckay who was born on October 3, 1975.  At the time of Bruyeres killing, Mckay already sported a record for Homicide after being convicted as a young offender at age sixteen (16) for the 1992 throat slashing of his girlfriends mother.  

Sheldon Anthony McKay was nothing less than pure evil. He was a tiny man who stood about 5’6” and weighed around 160 pounds. He had “Fuck You” and the Tasmanian Devil “flying the finger” tattooed on his right arm. He was an extremely aggressive, hostile and dangerous sociopath.

By the time the investigation was concluded, Mckay and a number of other Indian Posse gangsters found themselves charged with Bruyere’s killing.  Mckay was subsequently convicted of Manslaughter and received a life sentence.  He was murdered in prison by his Indian Posse brothers in 2006.

Upon reflection, Nicholas Bruyere and “TM” were extremely lucky to have escaped the Mcphillips Street gang attack alive.  A revelation not lost on “TM.”

It was around mid summer I’d noticed a lush patch of dark green grass growing on my otherwise hard, desiccated lawn.  By the fall, our yard turns into a concrete like surface after our oak trees soak up every last bit of moisture in the ground.  Upon closer inspection I noticed water beginning to pool in an area next to the driveway.  This was not good news, my main water line had sprung a leak and it would be my responsibility to complete the expensive repairs.

Half a dozen quotes later and we settled on a Water & Sewer company that came highly recommended for their solid work and affordability.

Enter “TM.”

As I looked out my front window I saw the back hoe arrive and a crew of five or six men starting to prepare the site for excavation.  I barely noticed the young Aboriginal man standing beside me as I exchanged greetings with the man running the crew.  That’s when the unlikely conversation occurred.

“I know you,” the young Aboriginal man said.  “Did you ever work Homicide?”

“T.M.” I said.

“You remember me,” he said with a sheepish grin on his face.

I remembered him alright.

Thirteen and a half (13 1/2) years later and “TM” was standing in my front yard with a shovel in hand preparing to start a hard days work.

“Nice to see your working,” I said.

“I got out of all that shit after that happened,” he said.  “I changed my life.”

That he did.

When I spoke to his boss I learned that “TM” was a valued, dependable employee.  So valued his boss financed a car for him after the banks rejected his loan application as an untenable risk.  Not only was “TM” a hard worker, he also played the role of taxi driver, jumping in his car every morning and picking up all of his co-workers so they could be on the job site at 7:00 am sharp.

By the time the job was completed I was literally amazed by “TM’s” work ethic, discipline and easy-going pleasant nature.  I was even more surprised to hear he was pursuing a career in standup comedy and had performed several gigs at a local comedy club.

When the time came to pack up their tools, “TM” knocked at my door.

“It was nice seeing you again,” he said.  “The next time I have a standup gig I’ll come knock at your door.”

“That would be great,” I replied.

As he walked away I recalled discussions that took place during my attendance at the Gang Action Interagency Network Forum held in April of this year.  The group largely agreed that kids join gangs because they have needs that aren’t being fulfilled; social needs, the need for self-esteem, love, a sense of belonging, opportunity, identity, security and employment.

To immature, young, impressionable boys, the false promise of gang life “appears” to provide these things.

The truth is, kids join gangs because they have few options and little hope of having their basic human needs met elsewhere.

“TM” is an example of an entrenched gang member who recognized he had an option before he ended up dead or in jail doing a life sentence.

It’s a simple equation;

Options + Opportunities + Young Urban Males = Gang & Crime Reduction

The time has come for our Political Leaders to get the message.

In the meantime, I won’t be losing any sleep because “TM” knows where I live.

RELATED LINKS:

The Police Insider – “Gang Exit Strategy – An Uphill Climb”

The Police Insider – “Winnipeg Gang Life – The False Promise”

10 Comments

  1. Appreciate your support and kind words.

    Thank you very much!:)

  2. Thank you There are those whose hearts are to see transformations in their neighbourhoods, in their cities and they need to hear there is HOPE!!! Thanks to you and your family for the job you do to keep our communities and cities safe.

  3. Thank you for commenting….

  4. Love that story, there is a hope everywhere !

  5. Appreciate your comments…thank you!

  6. This story made my night – it is difficult to keep repeating that many criminal instances are a lack of needs being met. It often falls on deaf ears and is met with anger. This is inspiring and heartwarming. Thank you so much for sharing.

  7. Appreciate your comments and the work you do.

    Thank you.

  8. Wow, it is a very rare experience for a teacher of at-risk youth to hear an update on former students. I remember these young men. I was their teacher at the time and I remember thinking TM was different than many of the gang connected students and that the friendship between Adrian and TM was very strong. They were more like real brothers than gang brothers. They had returned to school because they both expressed a desire to be different. They were looking to make a change. I was very saddened after the murder because I had lost them both. TM never came back. To learn that TM is doing well is a wonderful gift. Thank you.

  9. Thanks Harvey, appreciate your comments.

  10. Great story James. The Public and Police need to hear more stories like this.

    Havey

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