Casino Worker Told ‘Terror Squad’ to Target Gambler in Home Invasion

Posted on: January 24, 2024, 05:02h. 

Last updated on: January 26, 2024, 04:13h.

A gang member accused of murdering a casino customer during a chilling home invasion was tipped off about the victim’s winnings by an ex-member of the casino’s staff, Sask Today reports.

Ryan Gatzke, Isaac Melko, Jacob Ballantyne
Ryan Gatzke, above, was killed after confronting three armed gang members who broke into his home in the dead of night looking for his casino winnings. (Image: Global News)

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 with his pregnant wife at an unnamed casino in North Battleford on Oct. 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.

Night Terrors

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 an 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 coronary artery. The juvenile stepped on his body as he lay dying on the floor, according to court documents.

‘No Remorse’

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 antisocial 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.

“SIGA is aware of a trial currently underway in North Battleford that has gained media and public attention,” a spokesperson for the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority (SIGA), which oversees the casino, told “We would like to clarify a few details of the trial … The suspect was not a casino employee at the time of the incident. The suspect in question was a former employee that worked for SIGA briefly, was not working for the organization at the time of the incident, and is no longer employed or associated with SIGA.

“We hold our casinos and employees to the highest standards of training and excellence and look forward to continuing to welcome our guests to all our SIGA Casino locations with a world class experience now and into the future,” the spokesperson added.