It was just after noon on Wednesday when Michael Paseska and his girlfriend were told they were about to die.
“We were sleeping in bed, and all of a sudden there was a man standing there with a red bandana on his face,” Paseska recalled Thursday.
He literally dodged a bullet after several suspects entered his Winnipeg Street home and robbed him and his girlfriend, Sarah Edwards, at gunpoint, sparking a city-wide manhunt.
By 1 p.m., RCMP had swarmed a townhome on Maple Street, removing five individuals in handcuffs. A three hour stand-off followed because one suspect refused to leave the home, prompting a nearby daycare and Queen’s Park Elementary School to be locked down. The suspect surrendered peacefully shortly after 4 p.m.
Josef Pavlik now faces charges of assault, break and enter and using a restricted firearm for the purpose of robbery. Jesse Eldon Harry Mason is co-accused on the break and enter charge.
Both men remain behind bars and will appear in court Monday.
Paseska says he knew it was Pavlik behind the bandana.
“He started walking towards me with the gun, saying, ‘I’m going to kill you. Where’s the money? Where’s the money?’” Paseska said.
Paseska says he pushed Edwards to the floor. She covered herself with a blanket, cowering, before hiding in the closet nearby.
“I stood up in the bed, and as soon as I stood up, he let a shot off,” said Paseska. “I said, ‘I don’t know what stuff you want. Whatever you want, just take it. Don’t kill me.’”
The intruder then hit Paseska on the back of his head with the gun, firing another round in the process.
“It went off in my ear … and in that moment, everything was, like, humming because of the gunshot by my head. So I said, ‘OK, go ahead, kill me. Just kill me.’”
Edwards said the gunman fired four or five rounds from what she believes was a .22-calibre weapon.
A second man, also wearing a bandana, stood behind the “very tall” man holding the gun. Paseska and Edwards were ordered to kneel on the floor, and were told they were about to be gagged and shot.
Paseska began to kneel, but was able to open a nearby sliding door and jump out.
“I was totally naked, and as soon I went out the screen door, (the gunman) just turned around and went into my living room,” Paseska said.
It was then that Paseska realized there were more than two people in his home stealing electronics, guitars and other valuables.
“We think between four and five men,” said Edwards.
“They’re carrying (everything) across the street to two vehicles .… I was still naked, and I ran to the front door and I looked. I just didn’t care, I ran out to the front of my yard and I saw them across the street. So I just ran across the street naked, covered in blood.”
Paseska said he looked into the car window to see one man had removed his bandana, but had glasses on. The others still had their faces covered. Paseska broke his right hand in an attempt to break the car window.
Both vehicles sped away in separate directions.
Paseska also suffered a broken ankle, a flesh wound on his right temple from a bullet grazing him and needed six stitches in the back of his head from being pistol-whipped.
But he’s not going anywhere.
“I’m not afraid to live my life,” he said. “I don’t have any fear, I’m good. I’m not afraid of these guys.”
Paseska and Edwards say they met Pavlik through a friend, and he had been over at Paseska’s homes on several occasions.
“He knows the property,” said Edwards.
“We hope they serve a lot of time. We hope they get what’s coming to them,” she added.
Paseska denied any suggestions the incident is linked to the drug trade.
“This is not a drug house, at all,” he said. “We do not deal with anything like that, ever. We do have some people who come here and enjoy some drinks … but there’s no chemicals, no drugs.”
Mayor John Vassilaki called the event “unfortunate.”
“I hate it when things like that happen on my watch,” he said Thursday.
“That’s something that we weren’t expecting and just doesn’t make it look good for our community – that’s not what our community’s all about.”