Pincher Creek man charged in standoff released on bail

By Patrick Burles - @PatrickBurles on Twitter
February 15, 2017 - 5:14pm

LETHBRIDGE - A 53-year old man, charged following a standoff with the RCMP in Pincher Creek last week, has been released on bail.

Dewey "Todd" Starzyk was arrested and charged with careless use of a firearm, failing to comply with conditions of a recognizance and making death threats.

In a very rare step, the Crown and defence stated in Provincial Court Wednesday afternoon (Feb. 15) in Lethbridge, that they did not want a publication ban imposed on the bail hearing.

The Crown proceeded to outline the incident, saying the RCMP responded to a call of shots fired at a Pincher Creek home around 5 a.m. on Feb. 8. Upon arrival at the scene, the officers heard the front door open and saw a figure -- who they could not identify -- standing there. They stated that they heard what sounded like a gun shot, prompting them to retreat and call for back-up, which came in the form of a negotiator, a number of heavily armed officers, an armoured vehicle and a helicopter. After nearly eight hours, one man was taken into custody without incident.

Once inside, police found a double-barrel shotgun with one round in one of the barrels, and discovered the man was sleeping. At the time, Starzyk was under conditions that he have no weapons, and a number of them had been taken from his home by police at an earlier date.

Continuing with the narrative, the Crown explained that the 911 call came from one of two individuals living in the basement suite below the subject. However, after the incident, the individual admitted that there were no shots fired, and they made it up to bring police to the scene. They stated that they had been threatened and were concerned about the mental health of the subject.

The Crown also acknowledged a notation from the RCMP that they had recorded the sound of the front door to the home closing, but couldn't say why for sure.

Outside the courthouse following the hearing, defence lawyer, Sean Fagan spoke with Lethbridge News Now, saying Starzyk didn’t want the usual publication ban on his hearing, as he wanted people to know what happened.

"It's definitely not a strong case for the Crown, I guess, to quote Shakespeare, 'It's much ado about nothing'. The prosecution has a very shaky foundation with respect to this case," said Fagan.

"The initial 911 call was fabricated, made up, didn't happen," he continued. "The supposed gun shot, may have been a sound made by the front door. One of the Crown's primary witnesses is under investigation for drug trafficking, so yeah, very shaky foundation."

After hearing from both sides, Judge Eric Peterson released Starzyk on $3,000 cash bail, along with a number of strict conditions.

Those conditions state that Starzyk must:
-Remain in Alberta
-Abstain from the consumption of alcohol and drugs (unless prescribed by a doctor)
-Provide breath samples to police upon request
-Allow police them to search his residence and vehicle at random up to six times a month

He is also barred from attending the home in Pincher Creek where he was living, from having any contact with the complainants and from the possession of any firearms or ammunition. When he finds a new place to live, there can be no firearms in the home, regardless of who owns them and he will be bound by a curfew.

The matter will now return to Provincial Court in Pincher Creek on March 7.

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