Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Disturbing scene inside home

Source says Baryluk was flooding house near standoff's end

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MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Shattered glass lines the outside stairs of 512 Stella Avenue, the home where Andrew Baryluk died during an armed standoff with the police.

Water damage on the main floor. Possible bullet holes in the walls and ceiling. Empty liquor bottles scattered on a dirty stove.

And a profane message scratched into the paint reading "F You."

The Free Press got an exclusive peek Tuesday at the home in which a Winnipeg man died following a 17-hour standoff on July 30 and 31. This comes with Winnipeg police still refusing to answer the most basic of questions surrounding last week's tragic incident -- including how Andrew Baryluk died.

Was he hit with police gunfire? Did he shoot himself? Was he armed?

Family members are still in the dark as police impose a veil of secrecy over their ongoing investigation. But the Free Press has uncovered additional details into what allegedly occurred last week.

Until now, the common belief from family and friends of Baryluk, 53, is Winnipeg police made a bad situation worse by antagonizing and provoking the distraught, barricaded and possibly armed man after he refused to leave the only home he'd ever known as part of a court-ordered sale by his older siblings.

Baryluk has been described as an alcoholic who was believed to be suffering from an undiagnosed mental illness. But a justice source familiar with the case said members of the tactical support unit were responding to a perceived threat when they went on the offensive.

Specifically, Baryluk was in the process of flooding out the residence, the source said. He had turned on all the taps and the house on Stella Avenue was quickly filling with water. (The new owner of the property where Baryluk died confirmed Monday the dead man had left the taps running.)

Officials with Manitoba Hydro and the Winnipeg Fire-Paramedic Service expressed concern about a possible fire and/or electrocution if something wasn't done, the source said. So police cut the water supply and power and tossed in a flash grenade to get Baryluk's attention and drive him out of the home.

It didn't work. Police said Baryluk then opened fire on officers with a gun. Officers returned fire. It's not clear whether any bullets hit Baryluk.

That was around 8:30 p.m. on July 30. Further bangs were heard later in the night -- on July 31 around 1:30 a.m. -- but they were not gunshots, the source said. Instead, the bangs were from pepper-spray canisters being lobbed inside the home, as police had lost contact with Baryluk.

At about 3:30 a.m., Baryluk was found dead after police went inside the residence.

A Free Press photographer observed marks in the wall over the couch Tuesday, as well as the ceiling above the couch, all on the main floor. There were also holes in an upstairs window. More than two dozen holes had been numbered by crime-scene investigators. Again, whether they were bullet holes, and whether any bullets hit Baryluk, has not been revealed.

The carpet was still wet and there was an overwhelming smell of mould in the air. Power had yet to be restored as of Tuesday. A large selection of men's clothing lay on the floor, some of it soaked. The kitchen didn't appear to have been cleaned in some time.

Baryluk told his family last week he wasn't coming out of the house and was armed with a gun. Nobody knows whether he actually had a weapon, as loved ones don't know where he would have obtained one.

However, a justice source said Tuesday officers involved in the standoff reported seeing Baryluk "with an object in his hands" on several occasions that night. Whether that object was a gun or something else is not known.

Baryluk's cause of death is still under review by the medical examiner's office. This includes waiting on toxicology reports, family members said. A preliminary autopsy report is expected to be completed by the end of the week.

"Maybe he had a heart attack when he saw the army of police outside," a relative said Tuesday.

Family members have also been critical of how police handled the situation, saying they were not allowed to speak with Baryluk during the evening. They believe they could have talked him into surrendering peacefully, if given the chance.

mike.mcintyre@freepress.mb.ca mike.deal@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 6, 2014 A3

History

Updated on Wednesday, August 6, 2014 at 7:33 AM CDT: adds link to slideshow

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