A robbery victim says contrary to initial police reports about a Wednesday night armed holdup at Grand Harbour, there was a gunshot and he was hit.
Frederick “Ricky” Handal, 56, said he is recovering from a superficial bullet wound to the back of his head. Mr. Handal said he was sitting with two other men at a picnic table at Mike’s Bar, a free-standing bar in a patio area near Salty’s Sports Bar in Grand Harbour, after the business had closed.
Mr. Handal, owner of the floral and landscaping business Every Bloomin’ Thing, said he heard a commotion behind him and turned to see several men running toward him.
“I heard a bang,” Mr. Handal said. “I felt something hit me in the back of the head.”
He said it felt as if he’d been hit by a rock and determined that he’d been shot.
“I spent four years in the military,” he said. “I know what a gunshot sounds like.”
Police initially said no shots were fired during the 1 a.m. robbery. The Compass reported the incident online based on that information.
When he learned of the story, Mr. Handal said he called the police and asked about the accuracy of the report. Officials later issued a statement saying the situation was “unclear.”
“Given developments this morning, detectives are now working on the basis that shots may have been fired,” the revised statement said.
RCIPS Spokeswoman Jacqueline Carpenter said police are not disputing Mr. Handal’s account, but do not yet have enough solid evidence to confirm it.
Police say three “hooded,” tall, dark-skinned men with thin but muscular builds, two of whom had handguns, robbed five men in the bar area.
Mr. Handal said he tried to keep his head as the robbery unfolded around him.
“What I heard was, ‘Who’s the boss?’” he said. “One guy said that several times. He said, ‘Who’s’ the boss, where’s the keys?’ They said, ‘Make sure you get their cellphones so they can’t call the police.’”
He said his cellphone, wallet, a gold chain necklace and keys were taken during the robbery. He saw little of what was happening because his eyes were closed nearly the entire time.
“I tried to calm myself and put myself at ease,” he said. “I laid my head on the picnic table. I kept my eyes closed. I felt something warm starting to come down the side of my head, which I knew was blood.”
Mr. Handal said he began praying.
“I didn’t want to touch anything or feel anything because I was afraid I would go into shock,” he said.
After a few minutes, he lay down on the picnic bench until the robbers left. When he heard police arrive, he called out.
“I yelled to them, ‘I’ve been shot, I need help,’” he said.
Within a short time, he said, an ambulance arrived. Doctors treated his wound at the hospital and sent him home.
Mr. Handal said it’s still not clear to him why the thieves fired the gun in the first place.
“All I can tell you is I’m really lucky,” he said.
Police said the suspects escaped on foot. No arrests have been made in the incident. Detectives are asking anyone with information to call 949-4222.