Manitoba

Manitoba reeve 'shocked' over armed man's arrest at Rideau Hall

An armed man arrested after allegedly ramming his truck through the front gate of Rideau Hall in Ottawa worked at a rural community grocery store in west-central Manitoba and had recently posted about hardships as a result of COVID-19.

Facebook posts from Corey Hurren's business mention hardships of COVID-19 pandemic

Corey Hurren was identified as the Canadian Armed Forces member from Bowsman, Man., who was arrested in Ottawa. Police say he was armed and had gained access to the grounds at Rideau Hall early Thursday morning. (GrindHouse Fine Foods/Facebook)

An armed man arrested after allegedly ramming his truck through the front gate of Rideau Hall in Ottawa worked at a rural community grocery store in west-central Manitoba and had recently posted about hardships as a result of COVID-19.

Corey Hurren, 46, lived in Bowsman, Man., a small municipality about 400 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg.

"We're all a bit shocked that something happened in Ottawa," said Walter Pacamaniuk, the reeve of the municipality of Mintonas-Bowsman.

The reeve said he didn't know Hurren personally, aside from brief interactions at the Co-op grocery store in the neighbouring community of Swan River, where Hurren worked behind the meat counter.

He described him as a "good community member" known for his friendly demeanour and for cooking garlic sausage his customers raved about.

"When I walked by him, it was not just, 'No answer,' it was, 'Hello, how are you doing today?' " Pacamaniuk said.

Drove from Manitoba

Hurren, whom CBC News has confirmed is the man in custody, was armed when his vehicle ran into the main pedestrian entrance at Rideau Hall Thursday around 6:30 a.m. ET. 

The suspect then ran off toward the Rideau Hall greenhouse. Police officers on foot caught up to him and arrested him, RCMP said.

While both Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Gov. Gen. Julie Payette reside on the grounds, neither of them was present at the time.

An RCMP officer stands by a damaged gate outside Rideau Hall in Ottawa on Thursday. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

Sources say Hurren drove from Manitoba and had a long gun and a note in his possession. His vehicle had Manitoba licence plates. 

The RCMP said Friday that Hurren faces 22 criminal charges, including careless use of a firearm, possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose, possession of a prohibited or restricted firearm and uttering threats.

He was living in Bowsman, which is 386 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg. The community, which has a population of less than 300, is one of the most northerly farming communities in the province.

Business launched in 2014

Hurren also operated GrindHouse Fine Foods, which he launched in 2014, according to a LinkedIn account registered to Hurren.

In promotional material for his meat-producing business, Hurren is described as a Royal Canadian Artillery veteran who recently rejoined the military as a Canadian Ranger.              

People who answered two phone numbers associated with Hurren's family members declined to speak to media Thursday evening. But recent social media posts, associated with GrindHouse Fine Foods and Corey Hurren, provide some details into his background and business. 

The posts also indicate a concern about the impact of COVID-19 on the economy, but don't provide insight into why he travelled to Ottawa.

Roughly an hour before Hurren entered the Rideau Hall grounds, a Facebook page associated with his GrindHouse Fine Foods business posted a meme of a big outdoor party that would supposedly occur after the lockdown.

The post also directs people to look up "Event 201," a worldwide pandemic preparedness exercise run last year that conspiracy theorists now use to suggest Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is behind COVID-19.

Otherwise, Facebook posts from Hurren's business appear to poke fun at the hardships and fears spawned by the pandemic. The page shows a fondness for the military as well.

In the same Facebook post from the GrindHouse account, Hurren acknowledges that his meat-selling business is on pause during the pandemic. 

"I am not sure what will be left of our economy, industries, and businesses when this all ends," he writes. "I would like to continue on with my meat products when my volunteer contract with the military is done, whenever that is."

(RCMP/CBC News)

Bill Gade, who runs the Swan River radio station and grew up with Hurren, said people in the community are angry over Hurren's alleged actions.

The prime minister is "not anybody's hero" in the Western Canadian community, Gade said, but that doesn't excuse the alleged actions. 

"You wouldn't find a person in this community who hadn't said something to the effect of, 'If I had Justin Trudeau, I would tell him what's what.' Certainly no one here has ever acted on it before and I don't think anybody expected anybody ever would act on it," he said.

"That's not the way you solve any problem, is to show up to Ottawa with a gun."

Lions Club member

Hurren has been an active member of the Bowsman Lions Club, a member of the volunteer club told CBC News.

A LinkedIn page under Hurren's name notes he grew up on a farm in the Swan River Valley and worked in different parts of the meat and livestock industry for more than 20 years before starting GrindHouse Fine Foods.

The page says he studied computer and information sciences at Brandon University and Red River College in Manitoba.

A Facebook post from the Bowsman Lions Club said Hurren served with the Royal Canadian Artillery in the late 1990s in Yorkton, Sask. 

Clarifications

  • A previous version of this story suggested that "Event 201" is a conspiracy theory suggesting Bill Gates is responsible for COVID-19. "Event 201" was a global pandemic preparedness exercise, the name of which conspiracy theorists now use for the current pandemic.
    Jul 03, 2020 7:51 AM CT

About the Author

Ian Froese

Reporter

Ian Froese is a reporter with CBC Manitoba. He has previously worked for newspapers in Brandon and Steinbach. Story idea? Email: ian.froese@cbc.ca.

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