Winnipeg police say a man found dead inside a Stella Avenue home after a 17-hour standoff died of a single, self-inflicted gun shot wound.
Police Chief Devon Clunis spoke about the case for the first time Wednesday afternoon amid calls for Andrew Baryluk's death to be deemed a homicide.
Baryluk, 52, barricaded himself inside his home on Stella Avenue at about 11 a.m. CT on July 30. The standoff ended nearly 17 hours later, at about 3:40 a.m. July 31, when the police service's tactical team went inside.
Baryluk was found unconscious and later confirmed dead by paramedics at the scene.
According to police, officers were able to call Baryluk before his death, but they lost contact with him early in the evening.
Officers tried to deliver a communication device to the house around 8:30 p.m., but were met with gunfire, according to police.
Officers from the force’s tactical team returned fire, police said. However, according to Clunis, it was not officer fire that killed Baryluk.
Instead, a single self-inflicted gunshot wound from a firearm found inside the house was what killed the man, Clunis said.
The force’s homicide unit is still investigating.
Family wants independent investigation
Family members of Baryluk said they aren't satisfied with the investigation so far, and they want an independent body put in place immediately to investigate what happened.
"We just feel that it all could have been handled differently," said Colleen Baryluk, Andrew's sister-in-law. "It could have been handled more intelligently. It could have been handled more humanely. This wasn't a murderer, this wasn't a mad man."
An outside agency will review the Winnipeg police investigation once it's complete. In addition, Manitoba Justice will determine if their own internal review is appropriate or a second external agency review is needed.
The review will only look look at the work done during the Winnipeg police investigation and will not re-do any of the initial investigation.
Family frustrated over wait for details
Baryluk's sister-in-law Colleen expressed frustration before the press conference, saying the six-day wait for information from investigators was unacceptable.
"They killed a good man. So maybe they're having to try to figure out how that happened," said Colleen Baryluk.
"Just to think that he, what he must have gone through — how horrible. What he must have gone through in that house, the fear, the fright. I can't think about that because it just, as it is I'm crying on the hour, I can't bear thinking about these things."
- Man found dead in Stella Avenue standoff was in dispute over house
- Family of man in Stella Avenue standoff angry with police
The family says he did not want to leave the family's long-time home, the only one he's ever known. The sale of the house to a neighbour was complete and Baryluk had to leave.
"It's very frustrating, you know? I'm so angry it's not even funny," she said.
"I mean, to have the grief and the anger together, it's not fun."
She said she can't even bring herself to walk past the home.
"My husband and I got married in that yard. We had our social rather and our big wedding reception in that beautiful big yard," she said.
"And you know, we always had lots of wonderful Christmases and Easters there. No I don't think I'd be able to even go by there for a long time. It would be too heart breaking for me.
"And I don't think my husband would either even though he loved to go and sit with Andy in the back yard again and feed those birds, I don't think it would be a good thing for him either, it would be too hard."
Real investigations not like TV, chief says
Police spokesman Const. Jason Michalyshen said it's a complicated investigation, which is why it took some time for details to be released.
But Clunis called the six-day wait for information "not acceptable to everyone," adding, "We're moving in the right direction."
Clunis also said police work does take time.
"It's unfortunate that in today's day and time, I appreciate from what we watch on television, I think we have a bit of a microwave mentality of investigations that they are completed very quickly, and that is not the reality of police work," he said.
Home wrecked from flooding, holes
The neighbour who bought the house has known the Baryluk family for many years and told CBC News he is devastated at what happened.
The man, who requested anonymity, said the house was up for sale for a year and was sold once already to someone else. But when Baryluk wouldn't leave, the new owners gave up and the sale fell through.
He planned to have Baryluk live in the house still but realized welfare wouldn't give him enough money to cover the mortgage. He said he gave Baryluk as much time as he could to live here.
The house officially was put in his name in May and he didn't give Baryluk an official eviction notice. In the weeks leading up to the standoff, Barykluk made it clear that if he couldn't live there, no else could either, the man said.
Now the house is a disaster now after the standoff. The man said there are 24 small holes in the walls, which he believes are from bullets.
It's also flooded, upstairs and downstairs. The man believes Barykluk ran the water from the tap of the upstairs kitchen to flood the house.
He said the whole house has water damage and smells of mould.