TORONTO, October 9, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Faye Arellano is glad to be alive and back home after being discharged from hospital following a terrifying attack by a knife-wielding man while protesting abortion this weekend in Toronto.
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.
“I’m sure he must have been motivated by hatred of what he was seeing at that time,” Arellano, who was released from the hospital early Monday morning, told LifeSiteNews.com (LSN).
Detective Remo D’antonio of the Toronto Police Service told LSN that Michael Panagapko of Toronto has been arrested and charged with three counts of assault, one count of assault with a weapon, and one count of wielding a dangerous weapon.
D’antonio said that charges against Panagapko were “all criminal code offenses”. Two of the counts of assault relate to Panagapko’s attacks against an unidentified male victim who was part of the pro-life group and who came between Arellano and her attacker. According to a witness, he suffered a knife wound to his hand in the process.
The assault took place around 2:50 pm. at the intersection of Bathurst and Eglinton, after Arellano had removed herself from the group of pro-life demonstrators to tell them 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.
Arellano said she held up her sign to protect herself, at which point the man threw the bottle and threw her to the ground.
“One of his punches landed on my head, giving me a concussion,” she said.
While still on the ground, Arellano reached for the man’s jacket as he was turning to leave the scene, screaming for someone to call the police. At that point, the man pulled out a knife, with what looked to Arellano to have a 6 inch blade, “like a kitchen knife, but wider.”
“I yelled and yelled to the people to call the cops. That’s really what irked him, and that’s when I saw him pull the knife on me, ready to just finish me off,” she said.
At this point an unidentified male came between Arellano and her attacker, being injured by the knife in the process, related Josefino Canlas, a Knight of Columbus who witnessed the assault, to LSN.
At that point, Arellano says she mustered all her strength to stand up and run for cover.
“Everyone froze at the sight of the knife. A good samaritan came and shielded me while I could see the assailant looking for me,” she said.
“Where is that f**king b**ch,” Arellano remembers the attacker shouting loudly again and again.
“It was pretty harrowing and scary,” she recounted.
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A group of Knights of Columbus, who had attended the Life Chain event, rushed to the scene of the crime. They witnessed the attacker dispose of his knife in a nearby ally before he returned to the scene of the attack, related Canlas.
Police arrived within minutes of receiving the phone call for help, detective D’antonio related.
“The witnesses on scene were pointing to the suspect and he immediately surrendered to police. He put his hands in the air and went down to his knees and was taken into custody without incident.”
Arellano was rushed to Sunnybrook hospital where she was treated for concussion. While she lost her pro-life sign during the assault, she managed to hold onto her rosary, keeping it in hand during her stay at the hospital.
While Arellano remains bruised and shaken by the experience, she says finds some peace in knowing she suffered on their behalf, calling her experience “really nothing” when compared to “what the unborn [who are aborted] have to suffer.”
“Life is precious, especially for us Christians. I wouldn’t be comfortable calling myself a believer if I let abortion be perpetrated, especially when the government uses my taxes to fund those abortions,” she said.
Arellano, relating the event on her Facebook page to friends, wrote: “While I survived the ordeal, the experience was one harrowing moment in life that will be etched in my memory.”
“However, knowing that my assailant is now behind bars awaiting trial, on charges of assault with a weapon, was a consolation. At least the streets are safer.”
“In the meantime, I am achy all over and the doctor ordered me to take things easy because of the concussion that I sustained.”
Panagapko is currently being held in custody. The results of a bail hearing this morning at Toronto’s Finch Courthouse have not yet been released.