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  • 31st July 1994 - Back Alley Night Club, Calgary, Alberta:

    31st July 1994 - Back Alley Night Club, Calgary, Alberta:

    Following is a story related mostly in Brian's words about a gunman that he took down in front of the now defunct Back Alley Night Club.

    Brian’s statement in a Police report dated: SUNDAY 31ST JULY 1994: 3:34 Hours:

    I started walking from the south front door towards the parking lot due West. At that point I heard two gunshots, thought they were firecrackers. I continued walking to my friend’s car and I saw a man with a back-pack, but it wasn’t a back-pack, it was a rifle in a shoulder holster and he was walking towards me towards the door I exited and at that point I recognized the situation, by the look in his eyes and the gun, at the same time. I let him walk by me and as he passed I jumped him and I pinned him and everybody jumped into it. Offender was pinned in parking lot. Offender face down when I pinned him. I heard a shot go off. Someone took the gun away as I held him down. Bouncers grabbed him and took him into the Back Alley. I waited until police arrived to make my statement.

    1ST AUGUST 1994: Calgary Sun article headlined: City roofer Puts Tackle on Gunman: by David Jala: re Michael Manchulenko:

    Ron McCrae says he doesn’t remember what he was thinking when he helped disarm a gunman in the parking lot of a Calgary Nightclub yesterday morning. McCrae says he was leaving the Back Alley, 4630 MacLeod Trail, at closing time, when he heard someone yell “gun”.

    Police said the gunman fired once into the air as he walked through the parking lot toward the crowded exit of the popular night spot.

    “I turned around and I saw a guy with a gun – at the time I thought he had a .22 rifle – coming right at me through the parking lot so I ran right at him” said the 23 year old Calgary roofer.

    McRae said another bystander went at him at the same time, tackling him from behind.

    “Just as we were taking him down, he lifted the rifle and as we yanked it from him it went off,” he said. “I didn’t think about what I was doing, I just did it.” “You have to give the other guy credit too; he was there just as fast as what I was.”

    McCrae said bouncers then stepped in and took the man inside the Back Alley until police arrived.

    No one was injured.

    McCrae said the incident left him somewhat shaken. “Some of the police on the scene said I was stupid but if we didn’t stop him I’m pretty sure he would have hurt somebody,” said McRae.

    Police said the gun was later identified as a high-powered rifle. “I think they thought it was a .22 rifle and when officers told them it was a 30-odd-6 hunting rifle, their faces went a little white,” said Inspector Jack Beaton.

    Police said the suspect had been in several altercations in and around the nightclub before going to a friend’s house and returning at about 3 AM with the rifle. “It appeared he was headed back to the bar to do some damage,” said Beaton, adding the man was carrying eight live rounds of ammunition when arrested.

    Michael Manchulenko, 24, of the 1100 Block of 8th Street SE., is charged with pointing a firearm, careless use of a weapon and possession of a weapon dangerous to the public. Beaton praised McCrae and others involved.

    “While we don’t recommend tackling someone who has a gun, we have to thank these guys for what they did – they probably saved someone from getting hurt or killed.”

    2ND AUGUST 1994: Brian’s letter to David Jala of the Calgary Sun:

    Mr. David Jala;

    I am writing this in response to your article on Monday, August 1st 1994, entitled “City roofer Puts Tackle on Gunman”. I am very concerned with a number of obvious mistakes made by yourself and Mr. Ron McCrae in that article. I, along with a number of other witnesses who were involved in the situation and have given statements to the police, see a very different chain of events than those which are depicted in your article, and we feel that Mr. McCrae’s ambition to get his face and name splashed all over the media may have serious repercussions for the prosecution when this case is tried.

    1. The accused fired the first shot from the grass behind the row of shrubs in the parking lot in front of the Back Alley. “Not” as he walked through the parking lot.

    2. As the gunman walked towards the bar, he was yelling “Who’s next, who’s next,” and at this point he had the rifle, which had a shoulder holster slung over his shoulder and resting on his back. All that was visible to anyone including myself, who may have been walking towards him, was about 8 inches of the gun barrel visible over his right shoulder. He did “not” have the rifle in his hands, nor at any point after this.

    3. As the gunman approached me, and subsequently passed me on my left, I turned around and with my right hand hit him in the back of the head, and with my right foot swept out his legs. This knocked him to the ground face first very quickly. At this point I was the only person in contact with the gunman.

    4. I then proceeded to place my right knee on the back of his neck as he lay there and corral his hands and arms with my free hands. At “no” point did the gunman grab his rifle and “no” shot was fired.

    5. It is a couple of seconds after this that a second person, wearing a cowboy hat and in no way resembling Mr. McCrae, arrived at the scene and proceeded to remove his rifle. It was at this point that the second shot was fired. The gunman did “not” fire this shot.

    6. Soon after this, the scene was mobbed by numerous bystanders and the Back Alley staff, who took the man inside the bar and detained him until police arrived.

    I would have to agree with one thing Mr. McRae said, and that was if someone did not stop him at that point, by the very determined look in his eyes and the words he was yelling, I do think he would have killed or seriously injured someone. However, I do suggest that in the future you consul with more than one witness so that the facts are straight and fair and swift justice will not be hampered with conflicting testimonies. Myself and the other witness I fore mentioned do wish to remain anonymous at this point for reasons based on the pending trial and of personal privacy. If you have any questions concerning the validity of the above statements and persons involved, I can be reached at 259-2063.


    31ST JULY 1994 9:00 AM: A City police officer (it may have been Inspector Jack Beaton) called Ron and I and asked us if we had watched the morning news. We told him that yes we did. He then told us that it was our son who single handedly took down the gunman in the early hours of the morning. He said that Brian was truly a hero and that he probably saved some lives that morning.

    A FEW DAYS later the Calgary Sun printed a very small article, correctly this time, noting that the two men who disarmed M Manchulenko requested anonymity. It read: Disputes at a southeast Calgary night spot escalated early Sunday morning into shooting but no one was hurt.

    Police said by-standers disarmed a rifle-toting drinker in a parking lot by the Back Alley bar at MacLeod Trail and 46 Avenue S. The man went to a friend’s house to grab the gun and bullets after several scuffles at the bar. When he returned there, witnesses told police that he fired the weapon.

    The rifle went off again when two other men tackled the gunman as he worked its reloading action but before he could take an aimed shot. The pair, who requested anonymity, took the gun away and held the shooter until police arrived.

    Michael Manchulenko, 24, of the 1100 Block of 8th Street SE, is charged with pointing a firearm, careless use of a weapon and possession of a dangerous weapon.

    CONCLUSION: Brian’s comments about the above situation; he said it turned into a free-for-all. Once he had Manchulenko pinned on the ground face-down, the drunks just coming from the bar then went into a frenzied-mob-mentality and were jumping on Brian’s back and kicking him. His friend’s had to protect him by forming a ring around him and pulling the drunks off his back.

    In short what really happened - Brian took the man down and another fellow took the gun away.

    Author: Angela Ludwig


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