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Somebody's talking

The arrest of five Indian Posse members in one day, mostly for a string of shootings dating back two years, means only one thing---somebody's talking.

That could be a major breakthrough in the fight to break up Winnipeg street gangs which have become more brazen and reckless by the day.

Among the trio of Indian Posse gang members charged Tuesday with a two-year-old murder is Travis Arnold Personius, who is currently in prison in Saskatchewan. The name was unfamiliar, so we went digging for more information, and found it in the Saskatoon Star Phoenix.

Personius was sentenced only one month ago to five years for jamming a gun into a stranger's chest and telling him "One shot to the heart and you're dead."

The 23-year-old from the Opaskwayak Indian Reserve near The Pas, pleaded guilty to using a firearm in an attempted robbery; he had demanded the man's tie. The April 20, 2008, incident was defused, court was told, when a friend walked over and Personius said he was "just fooling around."

Before sentencing, the judge asked Personius if he had anything to say. Boy, did he ever. Maybe he was just showing off for the high school class in the courtroom at the time, but Personius laid out his life as a stand-up member of the thug life. Some of what he said might have relevance to the murder charge facing him in Winnipeg.

"He'd been in a gang for 12 years and in the previous two years his friends had "started killing each other off." He felt his own life was in jeopardy, so he left his long-term girlfriend and their two small sons and came to Saskatchewan.

Although he had stayed away from alcohol for four years since his last conviction, he became depressed, had nightmares and drank heavily.

He'd been drinking for days at the time of the offence and doesn't remember anything after eating a handful of magic mushrooms, he said.

"I'm extremely sorry for what happened to that man, 'cause I don't bother civilians. Any time I bring harm on somebody it's against another gang member.

"I hope the victim starts to work through it so he won't be traumatized for the rest of his life and finds peace in himself." ('Fooling around' leads to jail, By Betty Ann Adam, The StarPhoenix, July 15, 2009)

Petronius was arrested in a car with a loaded .22 calibre handgun hidden under his seat. At the time he was banned by court order from possessing firearms because of previous convictions for assault with a weapon and aggravated assault.

Because of double time awarded him by the judge for pretrial custody, Petronius had only two years and nine months left on his five-year sentence, meaning he could have been out on day parole in time for Christmas. The new charges of murder and conspiracy to commit murder throws those plans all to hell.

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