On the night after police allege John Paul Ostamas went on a killing rampage in downtown Winnipeg, he took some time to update his Facebook status. "[L]iving a gangsters paradise...anyways i be doing my own things and chillin like a mutha fuka," he wrote. He also added that he was "feeling determined", and included a winking face emoticon. His last update, posted a couple hours later, says simply: "the crime familia."
On Tuesday, Winnipeg Police announced Ostamas has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of two men who lived on the streets, 65-year-old Donald Collins and 48-year-old Stony Stanley Bushie. They were killed a block apart sometime between Friday night and early Saturday morning. The police haven't yet said how they died, but describe their deaths as "brutal killings."
Ostamas, originally from Eabametoong First Nation, an Ojibway community in northern Ontario, has also been charged with second-degree murder in the death of 37-year-old Myles Monias, who was beat up at a bus shelter in Winnipeg earlier this month, and later died in hospital.
Bushie was reportedly from Little Grand Rapids, a First Nation community in northern Manitoba. His niece, Amanda Martin, told CBC News that she hadn't heard from Bushie in more than a month and that she worried about his safety when he travelled to Winnipeg. She says her uncle had been staying at a boarding home for First Nations people in the city.
As for whether police are characterizing Ostamas as a serial killer, Superintendent Danny Smyth wouldn't say for sure at a press conference Tuesday.
"I don't know if there's a definition for a serial killer, but three murders is significant," he told reporters.
According to his Facebook and Google+ pages, Ostamas claimed to have lived in LA and attended the New York Medical College. A spokesperson from the College told VICE that they have no records of him ever attending. While it hasn't been confirmed that he lived in LA, we do know that he enjoys taking selfies with beer and listening to Biggie Smalls.
Smyth said that police believe Ostamas was "familiar with at least two of the victims" and that he was known among staff at homeless shelters across the city, including the Siloam Mission. On Monday, police removed several dumpsters from the alley behind Siloam in connection to their investigation, but haven't said why.
As VICE reported this morning, Siloam's deputy director, Laiza Pacheco, says that while these murders are rare and horrific, such acts of violence are in keeping with the broader culture of violence against homeless and other vulnerable populations in the city.
The Winnipeg Police will be contacting other jurisdictions in Canada where Ostamas might have travelled, but did not say whether he is involved in any other unsolved crimes in Canada. He reportedly has a history of violence, including being involved with instances of assault in the Thunder Bay area dating back to 2002.
Ostamas is scheduled to appear in court on Wednesday morning.
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