Ottawa RBC firebombing raids see 3 charged
Hundreds of rounds of ammunition seized
Police say they seized hundreds of bullets during raids that led to charges against three men in connection with the firebombing of a Royal Bank branch in Ottawa's Glebe neighbourhood in May.
Chief Vern White of the Ottawa police told a news conference Saturday morning that the ammunition was the type used in sniper rifles and machine guns. However, police later said they recovered 7.62-millimetre bullets, not .50-calibre ammunition as they initially reported.
White said two of the three men arrested Friday have also been charged in an incident at the same bank last February, when witnesses saw men damage windows and an ATM with rocks and a hammer.
The three men charged are:
- Roger Clement, 58, of Ottawa, charged with arson causing damage, possession of incendiary material, using explosives with intent to cause property damage, and mischief.
- Mathew Morgan-Brown, 32, of Ottawa, charged with arson causing damage, possession of incendiary material, using explosives with intent to cause property damage, and mischief.
- Claude Haridge, 50, of Ottawa, charged with careless storage and handling of ammunition.
Clement and Haridge were also charged with mischief Saturday in connection with the February incident.
White lavished praise on the co-operation his force received from the Ontario Provincial Police and the RCMP, who took part in the investigation because of concerns the incident was related to the G8 and G20 summits being held later this month in Ontario.
White also appealed to Ottawa residents to be vigilant before and during the G8 and G20 meetings, saying the Ottawa Police Service has not sent any of its members to Huntsville or Toronto because he believes the national capital could be a target of terrorism.
Safety deposit boxes gone
The fire at the bank early in the morning of May 18 caused an estimated $500,000 damage, and the branch remains boarded up. The bank recently notified its customers that their safety deposit boxes have been transferred to another branch.
The day after the fire, a video was posted on an independent media website showing the explosion and fire and two people walking away from the blaze.
A message with the video was signed by a group called FFFC-Ottawa. RBC was targeted because of its sponsorship of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, it said, which were held on "stolen indigenous land."
In the past, White has characterized the firebombing as domestic terrorism, and he stood by that description Saturday. But he said no terrorism charges have been laid so far, and it will be up to the RCMP to decide whether they should be.
The three accused appeared in court Saturday morning.
Morgan-Brown and Haridge were both remanded in custody and will appear in court Monday. Clement was remanded and will appear in court Friday.
2 of accused took 'activism' course at U of O
A former University of Ottawa professor said Saturday two of the accused men were students in his science and society course four years ago. He did not say which two.
It was a course known by students as the "activism course" because each class began with a lecture by a guest speaker such as an animal-rights or anti-arms activist, former student Valérie Duchesnau told CBC News in 2006.
The ex-professor, Denis Rancourt, said Saturday the course "was a lot about activism, a lot about speakers who were doers. They weren't just scientists. They were also various people in politics and activism.
"We weren't learning how to make bombs," Rancourt said.
The accused Morgan-Brown may have been one of Rancourt's students because Rancourt was on hand to protest Morgan-Brown's arrest in 2007 during the lead-up to a summit of world leaders at Montebello, Que.
Morgan-Brown was arrested at the time and charged with assaulting police after a demonstration near Ottawa's Fairmont Château Laurier hotel.
When Morgan-Brown was being questioned at the police station, Rancourt was outside demanding to know why he had been arrested.
"I think it's a procedure for discouraging organizers [of protests], for intimidating," he told CBC's French-language service Radio-Canada at the time.
"I think they're techniques of a police state."
Morgan-Brown was released from that arrest after agreeing to abide by a list of conditions, which included engaging in good behaviour, keeping the peace and not going within 500 metres of several sites, among them the Fairmont Château Laurier and the U.S. Embassy.
- An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Claude Haridge has been charged with arson. Haridge faces only charges of careless storage and handling of ammunition and one charge of mischief.Jun 22, 2010 2:15 PM ET