Police in Newfoundland and Labrador say 66-year-old George Brake had 36 hunting and tactical knives in his truck when he was arrested Tuesday, and they say they believe he intended to kill.
Brake was arrested near an office belonging to a candidate running in the Newfoundland and Labrador provincial election.
His arrest was preceded by a high-speed chase that began when a “concerned citizen” told police a man was acting erratically, talking about guns and saying he was going to Deer Lake to “stop the election,” RCMP Cpl. Jolene Garland told reporters Wednesday.
“Based on the information we received, we believe that Mr. Brake was a threat to cause death or serious bodily harm,” Garland said, adding that as he was being arrested, the accused allegedly told police he wanted to “execute local politicians.”
Garland said he was in custody by 10:42 a.m., less than a half an hour after RCMP first got the call.
Deer Lake is in the Humber-Gros Morne electoral district, where Liberal Leader and incumbent Premier Andrew Furey is running. Furey wasn’t in town on Tuesday, but Garland said police considered Furey and other local candidates and politicians to have been in danger.
Garland said Brake didn’t name any specific alleged target, but she said the suspect was arrested after he pulled into a parking lot near the office of Progressive Conservative candidate Jim Goudie, who is running against Furey. The knives, she said, were in the cab of his truck, with one large knife at his side, within easy reach.
Brake is facing four charges, including uttering threats to cause death and possession of a weapon dangerous to public peace. Garland said he remains in custody and has a court appearance set for Thursday.
On Tuesday evening, Furey’s team released a statement saying they had been notified by police that he was the possible target of the incident. In a tweet later that evening, NDP Leader Alison Coffin extended her best wishes to Furey and his team and said reports about the incident were troubling.
In an emailed statement Wednesday morning, the Progressive Conservatives said they were “deeply concerned” about what had happened. “After speaking with law enforcement, we do not believe the incident was targeted to any individual,” the statement said.
Meanwhile, Furey spoke to reporters Wednesday morning during a campaign stop in St. Anthony, on Newfoundland’s Great Northern Peninsula. He said his children were among his immediate thoughts when police first contacted him.
“I knew they were in St John’s and not close to Deer Lake, but as a father, as a parent … when you’re faced with a threat, the parental instincts kick in,” he said. “That’s where your first thoughts go.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 27, 2021.
Sarah Smellie, The Canadian Press