A six-hour standoff with police that included gunfire in Msida ended with the arrest of 38-year-old Serbian man Srdjan Stevanovic.
However, it’s still unknown what led to the shootout. Stevanovic was seen in the street at about 7.30pm the previous evening ranting and raving about doing something bad while damaging cars. He was arrested hours later after multiple police officers and RIU officers surrounded his home in Triq Qrejten, Msida.
At least five shots were fired during the standoff, with at least one of Stevanovic’s dogs being left injured after being shot by police
One of Stevanovic’s friends has spoken to Lovin Malta on the condition of anonymity after being left shocked at what he was seeing.
“Serj had been having some mental health issues recently and just staying in his house. I know he’s been having issues recently with his neighbours annoying him because of his dogs,” Daniel* told Lovin Malta.
“Serj was already in a paranoid state when police start coming to his door… this has happened before, about a month ago. But I guess this time he was more paranoid than usual.”
Though Malta was introduced to Stevanovic following the police standoff, Daniel spoke about Stevanovic’s background and the man he knew.
“He’s an amazing person with a big heart, always helps me and encourages me to be better. He was in jail in Serbia for about four years, and also a year in jail here, about nine years ago. He’s in a bad situation when it comes to the courts and having the right documents, and that’s what has led him to being so paranoid.”
“Generally, he is a good person. Life has traumatised him.”
Daniel explained that Serj owns several pitbulls, but says they “are not aggressive.”
“I saw some media call them ‘fighting dogs’ – I’ve been around those dogs for three years and never had any aggression from them, they only got aggressive because their owner was being attacked.”
Daniel believes that police escalated the situation by being too aggressive.
“He didn’t want this to happen for sure; I was with him just a week ago, and he was telling me how he’s trying to stay home and keep away from everyone. He even told me to call him before I go over because if I just show up at his door he might get angry.”
“He does get triggered easily – I don’t know what triggered him, but he doesn’t speak good English and gets triggered when people don’t understand what he’s saying.”
His friend believes he had weapons in his home because he had been assaulted multiple times before by other Serbians.
“I can’t go into details, but I’ve seen him with his face smashed. There is a criminal underbelly here, and Serj had problems with them”
“And I can tell you, I’ve had problems with people myself and told him ‘Can you help me?’ and he always says ‘No calm down and let’s talk it out’… he’s not aggressive like that. I think Everything he’s done was for his own for self-defence. I also believe there is a bit of a prison mentality in him after being in prison before… most prisoners keep weapons for self-defence.”
Saying he knew Serj had problems with his personal car, he has no real idea of what happened to trigger a six-hour standoff with police.
“I just wish I had known he had weapons because I would have told him to get rid of them. I wish I had known he was so paranoid. I could have helped him to calm down.”
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