The harrowing moments that unfolded when a doorman was hit in a hail of gunfire outside a Victoria nightclub in a drive-by shooting last week were recounted for reporters Friday.
“My first initial reaction was ‘I’m shot, I’m shot,’ and I was just telling my friends to get down and everybody else to kind of get down,” Michael Mizerski said.
The 25-year-old was hit in the thigh after a man pulled up in a car outside Club 9one9 on Douglas Street about 1 a.m. Feb. 25 and shot at the doormen.
The shooting occured after a man and woman were ejected from a show by U.S. East Coast rap duo Heavy Metal Kings.
“As soon as I made it inside, I realized I had to stay calm,” said Mizerski, a fit man with a gentle demeanour. “I didn’t want more blood, or the blood to be rushing to where I had been hit.
“I knew I had to stay calm,” Mizerski said. “I was confident in the fact that the police and paramedics were on their way and that I’d be taken care of.”
It was the first time Mizerski has spoken publicly since the shooting. He used the news conference to thank the community for its outpouring of compassion, to applaud the Victoria police, and to ask any witnesses who haven’t spoken to police to do so now.
The shooting triggered a three-day manhunt by Victoria police as they searched for the male suspect.
While police were searching for him, the suspect apparently posted a Facebook update saying “All day and all night, I’m still ganna play and I'm still ganna fight!”
Mizerski said it was a “slap in the face of Victoria police” and a mockery of a crime that could have been deadly. “There was open fire and numerous people could have been hurt and it’s really not a game — it’s someone’s life on the line.”
After receiving a tip from a security guard at the Vacation Inn at 3020 Douglas St., police arrested a man without incident about 2:30 a.m. Feb. 28.
“When he was caught, there was a huge sigh of relief on my part,” Mizerski said. “I hope that no one in this room has to go through what I’ve gone through … I don’t wish that upon anybody.”
A woman was arrested shortly after the crime.
Dennis Grant Fletcher, 23, and his co-accused, Whitney Rae Furber, 26, are charged with the attempted murder of Mizerski. The two are also charged with discharging a prohibited firearm, possession of a loaded prohibited firearm without a licence, and the aggravated assault of Mizerski. Furber is also charged with dangerous driving.
Furber’s next court appearance is March 18. Fletcher will appear by video on March 11.
Mizerski, who studied kinesiology at the University of Manitoba, said he has no plans to resume his doorman duties any time soon, but is eager to play rugby again. The former Victoria Rebels football player — he has also played for the Castaway Wanderers rugby club — is already back in the gym as part of his rehabilitation.
“I’ve taken it day by day,” he said. “Every day I feel like I’m getting stronger.”
After the shooting, Mizerski recalled making a very difficult phone call to his mother Bernadette Mizerski, in Toronto. She immediately flew to Victoria to be by his side.
“My mom was very emotional, obviously — both my parents were. They couldn’t believe that something like this happened,” Mizerski said. “As soon as she saw me though … she knew I was OK.”
Bernadette Mizerski told the Times Colonist that her strapping, six-foot-three son has never been too big to call her “Mommy” in public and to pick her up and give her a kiss on the head. “That’s my son,” she said.
In reaction to the shooting, Mizerski said he is more sad than mad: “I wouldn’t say I was angry — more or less upset that something like this had to happen.”
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Police are asking anyone who was on Douglas Street between Courtenay and Broughton streets from 1 a.m until 10 minutes afterwards on the night of the shooting to call detectives 250-995-7444 or leave an anonymous message with Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).
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