Merv Korolek was Googling his name on the Internet recently when he came upon a May 16, 2009 Burnaby NOW story: Remembering the day that changed his life; Burnaby RCMP officer looks back on being shot during a traffic stop 30 years ago.
In the article, Burnaby RCMP Staff Sgt.Major John Buis was recounting the story of how he was shot on April 22, 1979.
Buis, along with partner Jack Robinson, had pulled over a huge white Lincoln Continental with Texas licence plates that was speeding east down Kingsway.
The driver was David Barnes, 28 at the time, and he was accompanied by Gustave Gyulay, then 25.
Barnes got out of the car and approached Buis and Robinson with the vehicle registration, but not his licence, which he said had been stolen in Washington State. Buis' attention then went to Gyulay, who seemed to be nervous. Buis asked Gyulay to step out of the vehicle for a routine check. Gyulay said he had just been released from prison and was on mandatory supervision.
Const. Merv Korolek then arrived on the scene, which turned ugly when Gyulay, who was standing on the sidewalk, drew a shotgun from behind his back and started shooting at Buis.
In the ensuing firefight between Gyulay and police, Gyulay was shot three times, once each in the liver, right knee and left ankle.
In the police report about the incident, Korolek is given credit for firing the shot that hit Gyulay in the liver, and Robinson is given credit for the shots hitting Gyulay in the legs.
Korolek offers a slightly different version of what he believes happened on that April night.
"Robinson did not hit Gyulay with his shots," Korolek writes in a nine-page letter he addressed to the Burnaby NOW titled "Gun battle in Burnaby: The real story."
Korolek contends that Robinson, having been wounded in the gun battle, fired in Gyulay's direction but may have been "hindered by reaction time and steadiness of hand and could be slightly inaccurate. He wrote he was firing from a much longer distance and using a shortbarrel revolver that was reputed to be less accurate at longer distances; "was wearing glasses/corrective lens at the time of the shooting, which may be a factor in the accuracy of his shooting." He wrote from "Robinson's direction of fire, if he shot Gyulay in the places he claims to have shot him, he would have most likely shot his partner Buis."
Korolek takes issue with the official police report from the incident, which was authored by Sgt. Darrel Shields.
According to Korolek, he met with Shields, the lead investigator in the shooting, just after the shooting.
"He said that from recreating the crime scene, the bullet wounds found on Gyulay matched the angle of gunfire from me shooting Gyulay," writes Korolek. "Those were my bullet holes in Gyulay and not Robinson's. However, Robinson said he fired his gun in the direction of Gyulay and later found out that there were bullet wounds in Gyulay's right knee and left foot. He said that they were his bullets. Sgt. Shields did not think so. Shields told me he had to make Robinson feel good under this stressful incident, and it would be good for his character/ego, whatever you want to call it. I believe that Sgt. Shields said he would put it in the report that it was Robinson's bullets that hit Gyulay in the knee and foot."
Korolek does concede that there can never be absolute certainty about who did shoot Gyulay, simply because the bullet in his right knee was never located and the one in his foot was not taken out because it was not life-threatening.
According to Korolek, Gyulay passed away in 2008, and he took the bullet to his grave.
In a subsequent interview with the Burnaby NOW, Korolek said he just wants to get his side of the story out.
"I'm not trying to glorify what happened," he said. "I want to correct the inaccuracy of Shields' report. - I do blame him for the fact he wrote an inaccurate report."
Korolek added that Shields passed away several years ago and he wasn't able to speak to him directly about the report.
Korolek said he holds no bad feelings towards any of the other people involved in the shooting.
"I haven't had any relationship with them," said Korolek. "I don't even know how to get a hold of (Jack) Robinson.
"I am a little cross with Darrel Shields for writing an improper report. What I do know is they (Buis and Robinson) would have been dead if I wasn't there."
And why did Korolek come forward so many years after the 1979 incident?
"I didn't know this would show up in the paper," he said. "Maybe I should have let the sleeping dog lie. - Maybe out of this, years later, the guys will say, 'This is the way it went down.' I just want to get the story out of what really happened."