60-year-old ‘guardian angel’ put himself between knife-wielding man attacking pro-life woman
TORONTO, October 10, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Faye Arellano may not be alive today to tell of her terrifying attack by a knife-wielding man while protesting abortion this weekend in Toronto had it not been for the heroic efforts of a “good Samaritan” who stood between her and her attacker.
Josue Gauran, 60, is a husband and father, a factory worker, a Knight of Columbus, and the man who decided to help Arellano.
“Yes, I remember Mr. Gauran, who came to rescue me as soon as I was knocked to the ground by the aggressor,” Arellano told LifeSiteNews.com. “I must confess that I didn't really know him that well, but will now remember him as ‘one sent to deliver me from the foe.’”
Arellano, in her late 40s, was attending a silent and prayerful Life Chain pro-life event on Sunday afternoon when she was suddenly assaulted by the man, who at first doused her with water from a bottle, then hurled the empty bottle at her face, grabbed her by the hair, slammed her to the ground, and began punching and kicking her repeatedly before drawing his knife.
Michael Panagapko of Toronto, 45, was charged with three counts of assault, one count of assault with a weapon, and one count of wielding a dangerous weapon.
The attack on Arellano may have been deadly had it not been for an “unidentified male victim” — as police described him — who selflessly put himself between Arellano and her attacker.
Standing on the corner of Bathurst and Eglinton in plainclothes, Gauran was preparing to take photos of his brother Knights as they returned from the afternoon Life Chain event to Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Church.
“As I was standing there on the corner, I heard an altercation with shouting,” Gauran told LifeSiteNews. “I heard a man’s voice. He was saying: ‘Stop following me.’ I heard the lady saying: ‘I am not following you.’”
Arellano told LSN that she had been crossing the street to tell her group of pro-life demonstrators that it was time to disperse. She held a rosary in one hand and a sign in the other which read: “Life, the first inalienable right”.
“As I was crossing the street, that’s when the guy saw the opportunity to attack me,” she said.
Gauran witnessed the attacker douse Arellano with water from a bottle as she held up her sign to protect herself.
The man became more aggressive, throwing the empty bottle at Arellano’s face before slamming her to the ground. A punch to the head left the woman with a concussion.
Instead of taking pictures, Gauran rushed to the man, trying to separate him from Arellano so as to “give the woman a chance at not getting hurt.”
Still holding the camera in his right hand, Gauran put himself between the woman and her attacker.
“My only thought was to keep the woman free from the man’s reach,” he said.
It was then that Gauran saw the knife with a six inch blade flashing in the attacker’s left hand.
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Waving his knife, the attacker shouted racist words: “You Filipinos, you want this?” Gauran recounted.
The attacker grabbed Gauran’s left hand and knocked him to the ground, making him land directly on his left knee. Gauran’s left hand was injured and bleeding in the process. Gauran was punched in the face during the scuffle, dropping his camera and losing his glasses.
“I hit the ground with my left knee and got a bruise. I felt the pain as I fell down on the ground,” he related.
With the attacker’s attention now diverted, Arellano managed to get up and flee the scene. She hid behind a man who had motioned to her.
Now with his brother Knights at his side, Gauran and those near him retreated from the knife-wielding attacker.
Police arrived minutes later and arrested the attacker without further incident. Gauran was attended by paramedics for his injured knee while Arellano was whisked away to hospital where she was treated for concussion. She was not released until early Monday morning.
Gauran said that he does not want to be called a good Samaritan or a hero for what he did.
“I don’t know why I intervened to save this woman, but I think that it’s an instinct that when someone is getting hurt we need to intervene just to help,” he said.
“I just did my part," he said. "We are pro-life. We just want to save life. That’s what we are here for.”
Arellano called Gauran and the man she hid behind “guardian angels sent my way”.
Gauran said he has not told his wife Regina all of what happened, so as to not increase her stress and worries.
“I could be dead now. I could not have known that the man would draw a knife. He could have killed someone instantly, right at that moment, either the woman or me,” he said.
Gauran believes that God’s saving hand was present during the incident.
“We believe in miracles," he said. "Probably, it’s God’s intercession that kept us alive. I believe that.”
Arellano agrees: “Now looking back, I'd like to think that the circumstances could only point to that ongoing spiritual struggle in which God has bailed me out.”
Panagapko was held in custody until yesterday morning, when he was granted bail with a date to appear in Toronto’s Finch Courthouse on November 15.