January 24, 2024, 05:02.
January 24, 2024, 05:02
A gang member accused of murdering a casino-goer during a chilling home invasion was tipped off about the victim’s winnings by a member of the casino’s staff, Sask Today reports.
That’s according to an April 2021 filing to North Battleford Provincial Court in Saskatchewan, Canada, by Senior Crown Prosecutor Jennifer Schmidt, which was made public for the first time Monday.
Ryan Gatzke, 27, spent an evening at an unnamed casino in North Battleford with his pregnant wife on October 18, 2019. The Gold Eagle Casino is the only gaming venue in the area.
Gatzke had won money, “not a large sum, but some money,” Schmidt explained in April 2021. “It was a fairly good night for them. They had drinks and supper,” she added.
Later that night, the Gatzkes were awoken by the sound of the bedroom door opening and saw a man with a gun standing in the doorway.
Their home had been invaded by three members of a violent local street gang, known as the Terror Squad. These were Isaac Melko, Jacob Ballantyne, and another who cannot be named because he was 17 at the time of the killing. The juvenile is suspected of pulling the trigger that killed Ryan Gatzke.
A person who worked at the casino, and who knew Isaac Melko and Jacob Ballantyne, told them that Mr. Gatzke had money in his house and that he also had drugs in his house,” Schmidt told a bail hearing for the juvenile suspect.
The gang members were high on drugs and alcohol. Melko was armed with a SKS rifle, and Ballantyne – a reputed “general” in the Terror Squad – had a 9mm handgun.
The juvenile pointed a sawed-off 12-gauge shotgun at Gatzke, and a struggle ensued. Gatzke suffered two gunshot wounds in the mid-chest and abdomen, one of which severed his right artery. The juvenile stepped on his body as he lay dying on the floor, according to court documents.
On Monday, the suspect consented to be tried as an adult on murder charges. Prosecutors are seeking a 10-year prison sentence.
They have described the defendant as an individual who had a difficult upbringing and who suffers from an anti-social personality disorder. He “feels no remorse” and is “entrenched in the gang and has no motivation to change,” according to court filings.
Last year, Ballantyne was sentenced to eight years in prison and Melko to 12 years after both pleaded guilty to manslaughter. Charles McLean, the getaway driver, received four years for manslaughter.
It’s not clear whether the casino employee will face charges. Casino.org/news contacted the Gold Eagle Casino for comment but had not heard back at the time of publication.