Dangerous offender who shot, blinded student in Calgary wants release

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Dangerous offender who shot, blinded student in Calgary wants release
WATCH: A man who shot an innocent bystander in the face in downtown Calgary nearly 10 years ago is asking for freedom. Nancy Hixt has an update on the dangerous offender and the man who was blinded by his actions – Feb 27, 2018

A man who blinded an innocent bystander walking with his girlfriend in downtown Calgary nearly a decade ago wants to be let out of prison.

In September 2008, Roland Warawa aimed a gun at someone he was in an altercation with over drugs. Instead, when he fired, the bullet went astray, hitting Brazilian exchange student Jose Neto.

As a result, Neto lost both of his eyes.

Warawa was declared a dangerous offender and given an indeterminate sentence. He’s now allowed to make a pitch for freedom to the Parole Board of Canada every two years.

According to documents obtained by Global News, Warawa wants to pursue apprenticeship training in welding.

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He’s presented two release plans; one would see him reside at a community residential facility near his wife and child. The second proposal would have him released on full parole to live with his spouse.

Warawa, now 39, is a career criminal and has been in and out of jail since he was 19.

His history includes attempted murder, assaulting a peace officer, theft, break and enter and robbery.

A recent psychological assessment showed he no longer meets the threshold for psychopathy so his “future is not as bleak as earlier reports would suggest.”

Watch from September 2015: A young Calgary man who was blinded by a stray bullet credits his independence to his working dog. Carolyn Kury de Castillo has more on Jose Neto’s inspiring story.

The board has turned him down, for now, but recognizes the effort Warawa is making.

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“You have made important progress towards managing your risk factors,” the board said, but went on to state members couldn’t ignore Warawa remains “a high risk to re-offend.”

Still, Neto has doubts.

“I think violent people have to be taken away from society,” Neto told Global News.

“He caused what he caused to me because he was let go… and I don’t wish this to anybody.”

While Neto worries Warawa would re-offend, he trusts the parole board will ultimately make the right decisions. Other than that, he chooses to give Warawa very little thought.

“I don’t think much about forgiving because I wasn’t fighting with anybody I wasn’t arguing with anybody I was just walking with my girlfriend after dinner,” Neto said.

“The only thing I can do is carry my life and not really spend much time or energy thinking about that.”

In the years since Neto was blinded, he’s been married, become a Canadian citizen, become a father to a little girl and now he owns his own massage therapy business.

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He said every day he makes the choice to be positive, hoping he can inspire others to overcome adversity.

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