The RCMP have laid 22 charges against a member of the Canadian Armed Forces from Manitoba after an individual allegedly rammed a truck through a fence and entered the grounds of Rideau Hall carrying at least one weapon.
The majority of the charges against Corey Hurren, 46, are related to the possession and transportation of firearms. He also faces one count of uttering threats.
He was considered to be “on duty” on the day of the incident through his work as part of Operation Laser, under which the Canadian Forces have helped the provinces cope with the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s unclear what his role was.
The investigation is being handled by the Ottawa branch of the RCMP’s Integrated National Security Team.
According to the RCMP’s timeline of events, an individual crashed a black Dodge Ram through what is known as Thomas Gate near Sussex Drive at 6:29 a.m. on Thursday. The first people who became aware of the incident were workers from the National Capital Commission, the federal agency that manages official residences in the Ottawa area.
Notified by the NCC employees, security guards approached the area, saw an individual carrying at least one firearm and alerted the RCMP around 6:34 a.m. The suspect allegedly hid for a few minutes in a rose garden before walking to a greenhouse located next to Rideau Hall, which is the official residence of the governor-general. At that point, the suspect was relatively close to Rideau Cottage, which is the temporary residence of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his family.
However, neither the Trudeau family nor Governor-General Julie Payette were present at the time.
Deputy Commissioner Mike Duheme said RCMP officers started to talk to the suspect around 6:45, and that the suspect started responding at 6:53 by providing his name and other information about himself. The suspect was apprehended around 8:30 on Thursday morning.
At a news conference, Deputy Commissioner Duheme praised RCMP officers for “using successful de-escalation techniques to resolve this highly volatile incident.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau thanked the police officers who ensured that “nobody was hurt.”
“Obviously, this was something nobody wants to hear,” he said. “But I want to thank the extraordinary members of the police services and the RCMP who did their job.”
Deputy Commissioner Duheme refused to provide any information on the suspect’s motives or intent. He added that the suspect was not previously known to police.
According to National Defence, Mr. Hurren enrolled in the Canadian Armed Forces Reserve in 1997 and left in 2000 with the rank of corporal. He re-enrolled in the CAF as a member of the Canadian Rangers in 2019.
“He was not, however, part of any CAF military task at the time of his arrest; he travelled to Ottawa of his own accord without the knowledge of his chain of command,” the CAF said. “Furthermore, it is important to note that there is no indication at this time that the weapon in [his] possession when he was arrested belonged to the CAF.”
In a 2015 post on Facebook, which is still visible on a family member’s page, Mr. Hurren said he comes from a family with a long history of service in the Canadian military.
In the post, he defended then-Conservative leader Stephen Harper’s use of the phrase “old-stock Canadian” during an election debate. Mr. Hurren laid out his lineage, including ancestors from England and Scotland, while pointing out he was of “Métis descent” on his father’s side.
“We are the people who built this country, defended this country, and made it one of the most desirable places on the planet to live. That is also why people still want to come here and start a better life. If some of you still think it is an insult to be called an ‘Old Stock Canadian’ then I think you are wrong. It is a title and a heritage that you should be proud of,” Mr. Hurren wrote.
Pierre-Yves Bourduas, a retired senior RCMP officer, said the police force will now have to re-evaluate the way it protects the grounds and buildings at Rideau Hall. The public has access to much of the area, which makes it harder to secure, he said.
“I’m sure they’ll adjust their deployment considering this latest incident,” he said. “Will they have additional cameras or motion sensors? They might try to beef it up.”
The weapons charges against Mr. Hurren include: four counts of careless use, storage and handling of a firearm; four counts of possession of a weapon for dangerous purposes; one count of possession of a restricted firearm, knowing its possession is unauthorized; one count of possession of a prohibited device and two counts of possession of a prohibited or restricted firearm with ammunition.
The count of uttering threats is punishable by up to five years in jail, while firearm offences can lead to a maximum punishment of 10 years in jail. Mr. Hurren’s next court appearance is scheduled for July 17.