From Wednesday's Globe and Mail Published on Tuesday, Jan. 05, 2010 10:34PM EST Last updated on Tuesday, Jan. 05, 2010 11:14PM EST
Daniel Richard Wolfe, a convicted murderer who founded Canada's largest native street gang, was killed in a brawl at a maximum-security prison in Saskatchewan this week.
The 33-year-old Mr. Wolfe, a leader of the Indian Posse, was fatally wounded Monday just before 1 p.m. in the penitentiary at Prince Albert. Two other inmates were seriously injured in the fight, which involved as many as 10 prisoners.
His lawyer said an internal gang dispute may have led to Mr. Wolfe's killing. Prisoners are typically segregated from rival gang members in Canadian jails to protect against these kinds of attacks, but an internal dispute would be more difficult to prevent.
The RCMP have yet to formally identify Mr. Wolfe as the victim, but several sources confirmed he has died. A cause of death has not been released and no arrests have been made.
Mr. Wolfe gained national attention for leading one of the largest prison breaks in recent Canadian history in 2008, masterminding the escape of six inmates from Regina's provincial correctional centre. After nearly a month on the lam, Mr. Wolfe was arrested in Winnipeg, having led the RCMP and other police forces on a chase from north to south and across two provinces.
He was found guilty in November of committing a double murder in which three other people were wounded. Witnesses said that after a dispute with rival gang members at a bar in Fort Qu'Appelle, Mr. Wolfe and a companion got a gun, walked into the house where their rivals were staying and shouted, “This will teach you to mess with the [Indian Posse],” before spraying the room with gunfire.
As a teenager growing up in Winnipeg's north end, Mr. Wolfe and his brother were two of the founding members of the Indian Posse street gang.
From its small beginnings, the gang grew into what experts have described as the largest street gang in Canada, with chapters in cities, reserves and corrections facilities from Northern Ontario to British Columbia.
Speculation about his killing has centred on a rivalry between leaders of the Saskatchewan chapters of the Indian Posse and Mr. Wolfe, who was seen as a leader of the Manitoba branch.
His lawyer, Estes Fonkalsrud, said he was shocked to hear that Mr. Wolfe had been killed.
“He never indicated any concerns about being at Sask. Pen,” he said. “Daniel and I had been talking. He still hadn't decided whether to appeal.”
Mr. Wolfe had been housed in the penitentiary's maximum-security unit for more than a year, ever since he was recaptured after the August, 2008, prison break. Mr. Fonkalsrud said Mr. Wolfe's mother was devastated by the news.
“She's very upset. I know in my dealings with her she's taken responsibility for Daniel's criminal life and bears a lot of guilt for the decisions she made,” Mr. Fonkalsrud said. “Daniel had indicated to me that he had made wrong decisions in life because he felt he didn't have any other choices, being disadvantaged, raised in poverty and exposed to drugs and alcohol. He ended up in the gang life and couldn't get out.
“He wasn't formally educated, but he was intelligent and quiet. … He's a leader. He's almost charismatic, which is odd, because he probably could have succeeded in a lot of other things in life.”