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May 19, 2022



Czech Police assess incident where man pointed a gun at a seven-year-old Romani boy as a misdemeanor

16.1.2021 8:32
The Czech Police intervening on 30 October 2020 against the man who threatened Romani community member Bartoloměj Girga and his seven-year-old son with a pistol. (PHOTO:  stills from video footage of the incident recorded by Mr Girga)
The Czech Police intervening on 30 October 2020 against the man who threatened Romani community member Bartoloměj Girga and his seven-year-old son with a pistol. (PHOTO: stills from video footage of the incident recorded by Mr Girga)

A serious incident transpired recently in the Czech town of Bílina. Romani community member Bartoloměj Girga, a singer-songwriter, was standing in front of a local retailer with his seven-year-old son when a man unknown to him threatened them with a pistol.  

Girga is better know to the public by his nickname, Bertík. A police officer who intervened at the scene said the weapon was a gas pistol; Bertík says he does not know what kind of weapon actually used, but does say the officer told him it had been converted to fire ball bearings.  

The incident transpired in the parking lot in front of the Penny Market in Bílina. Police eventually assessed it as a misdemeanor and the Girgas will be testifying about the October incident to the local authority next month. 

"He pointed the pistol directly at my seven-year-old son, who began trembling all over and weeping," Bertík told news server The incident began after he had reparked his car so his wife could put things in the trunk more easily.  

When Bertík got out of the vehicle, the driver of the car parked next to him, an older man, began accusing him of having damaged his sideview mirror more than once. As the man later admitted to the police officers called to the scene, no damage had in fact been done to the sideview mirror of his vehicle. 

Bertík objected that the accusations were untrue and that he had never seen the man before in his life. After an exchange of opinions, the older man, still sitting in his own car, shouted "I've had enough of this", drew a pistol, and pointed it at the seven-year-old boy.

A local security guard saw what was happening and, according to Bertík, advised him to call the police, which he did. "Before that, I sent two Romani men away who had intervened so the gentlemen wouldn't be able to allege he'd been assaulted by Romani people,"  Bertík told 

According to the artist, the assailant then told him in anger that he was known to police because they had already confiscated 20 pistols from him. "When the attacker's wife arrived at their car, she complained that her husband has done this more than once," Bertík said.  

After the man pointed the pistol at Bertík, the artist began recording the incident on his smartphone, repeatedly describing everything that had just happened. In that video footage, the attacker first says he can do whatever he wants in his own car.

Bertík then asks the man why he pointed a pistol at him and the man denies doing so. Police officers quickly arrived and one found the weapon in the glove compartment of the man's car; later the police press spokesperson described it as a gas pistol.  

According to Bertík, the attacker complained about being old and said he had given himself the final task of shooting 20 people - which is why the artist suspects the weapon might not have been a standard gas pistol. He says one of the intervening officers confirmed that to him and said the weapon had been modified to shoot ball bearings. 

Another man driving a Jeep also got involved in the incident because he thought Bertík was harrassing the older man. Bertík informed him that the "old guy" had pulled a pistol on his son.  

After another verbal clash, the Jeep driver then threatened Bertík right in front of the police officers, saying:  "You won't believe your eyes when I pull mine on you." The artist is unsatisfied with the approach taken by the police to the incident. 

"They never took statements at all during the incident, the gentleman was never detained, the weapon was never checked, the officer didn't take it out of the glove box, didn't confiscate it, and nobody else was asked to make a statement even though there were plenty of eyewitnesses. They said not one word to that man in the Jeep who threatened me. I had to leave the scene because my boy was crying and couldn't be calmed. However, when I called the police that evening, the officer said they did not need me to give a statement. Then they sent me a paper stating that the entire case will be dealt with as a misdemeanor. It says the gentleman 'allegedly' pulled a gas pistol on us - but if the officers had interrogated witnesses, they would have been certain it happened," Bertík angrily told    

The misdemeanor commission will convene on 3 February with Bertík as the notifier of the incident and his wife as an eyewitness. Speaking on the Czech Radio program O Roma Vakeren on the Radiožurnál station, Daniel Vítek, press spokesperson for the Ústecký Regional Police Directorate, said previously that "According to the preliminary investigation, a verbal clash happened between the father of a minor and the owner of a personal vehicle that resulted, according to the father who called the police, in the other man beginning to threaten him with a weapon from inside his car. Officers summoned to the scene ascertained that the older man did have a gas pistol in his glove compartment. Since there were no injuries or shots fired, we are categorizing this case as a misdemeanor against civil coexistence. The other circumstances are still being investigated."

František Kostlán, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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