ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — Police in Newfoundland and Labrador say a man arrested Tuesday following a high-speed chase had 36 hunting and tactical knives in his truck and they believe he intended to kill politicians.
George Brake, 66, was arrested in Deer Lake, N.L., near an office belonging to a candidate running in the Feb. 13 provincial election.
Police had begun their pursuit after a "concerned citizen" reported that 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.
The RCMP say Brake is from Shoal Bay, a town of just over 200 people in the Bonne Bay area of Newfoundland, about 70 kilometres from Deer Lake.
There is a profile for a man named George Brake on Facebook who lists Bonne Bay Central High as his former school and Bonne Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador, as the area he is from. The Canadian Press has not been able to verify that the profile belongs to the man arrested by police.
The profile has recently shared posts about debunked conspiracy theories that the world is controlled by elite pedophile rings, and stories about the elite torturing children to drink their blood. These theories are often linked to, and spread by, QAnon conspiracy theorists.
Other posts include content from such conspiracy theorists as Alex Jones and Lin Wood, recently in relation to the Capitol Hill riot. One post is a video saying Wood has evidence the United States election was rigged by communists.
The profile has also shared a meme with a video of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau beside a smaller video of Adolf Hitler giving a speech. The accompanying text says "Justin Trudeau threatens Canadians with fines and prison time for not following Covid-19 quarantine rules." In response to a comment suggesting Trudeau should face fines and prison time, Brake wrote "Traitors."
There are other posts suggesting the COVID-19 death toll is inflated or sowing fears about the COVID-19 vaccine.
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 Deer Lake. 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