Nfld. & Labrador

N.L. man reportedly trying to 'stop the election' facing 4 charges after arrest outside candidate's office

According to RCMP, George Brake, 66, allegedly threatened Newfoundland and Labrador politicians prior to his arrest Tuesday outside a local candidate's office and is now facing four charges. Police say they seized 36 knives from his vehicle.

Police say George Brake, 66, had 36 knives in truck

George Brake, seen here in a photo posted to his Facebook account, was arrested by Newfoundland and Labrador RCMP in Deer Lake, N.L., Tuesday after allegedly uttering threats about provincial election candidates. (George Brake/Facebook)

A man who police say led them on a high-speed chase in western Newfoundland is now facing four charges after Tuesday's arrest outside a Deer Lake electoral candidate's office.

George Brake, 66, of Shoal Brook, N.L., was charged Wednesday with possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose, uttering threats to cause death or bodily harm, dangerous operation of a vehicle and flight from a police officer.

The campaign team for Liberal Leader Andrew Furey said Tuesday evening that police suspected the man had intended to target Furey.

Brake reportedly said he was on his way to "stop the election," according to police. 

Newfoundland and Labrador voters are heading to the polls on Feb. 13 after a provincial election was called earlier this month. 

Man 'threatened to execute' politicians, RCMP says

The RCMP said Wednesday that the man was, in fact, arrested near a PC candidate's office, and that police had "serious concerns for public safety, including the safety of the sitting MHA for the area and political candidates."

Furey is the sitting MHA for the area, and is running in the Humber-Gros Morne district.

RCMP Cpl. Jolene Garland said Wednesday that the force believes Brake was a "threat to cause death or serious injury," and that in the presence of police he "threatened to execute local politicians."

RCMP said these knives were seized from Brake's truck after he was arrested Tuesday evening. (Mark Quinn/CBC)

Police seized 36 hunting and tactical knives from Brake's truck, according to information provided by the RCMP at a news conference Wednesday afternoon.

One of those was allegedly wedged next to the driver's seat.

The RCMP said that at about 10 a.m. Tuesday they received reports of a man "behaving erratically" in Bonne Bay, making political references and alluding to the use of firearms.

The force said its officers chased the man's truck to Deer Lake for about 10 minutes, before blocking him with patrol cars outside a building containing the PC candidate's office.

RCMP spokesperson Jolene Garland speaks to the media on Wednesday afternoon, outlining more details about the arrest of a man who police say wanted to 'stop the election.' (Mark Quinn/CBC)

"The gentleman stopped at the local business in Deer Lake, and he was removed immediately from the vehicle by our officers," said Garland. Three officers were involved in the arrest, and discovered the knives on a search of his vehicle.

"They ranged in size, shape, style," Garland said, noting the largest of the knives had a blade of approximately eight-inches. "They were certainly capable ... of carrying out any serious threats."

Garland said Brake was arrested within 30 minutes of the initial complaint made by a concerned resident.

Alleged targets irrelevant: Furey

Furey spoke with reporters Wednesday, calling the issue of Brake's alleged targets irrelevant, after his campaign team issued a release Tuesday evening saying police had warned them Furey had likely been earmarked.

The campaign office for the PC Party contradicted that statement, instead confirming to CBC News on Tuesday evening that police told them there was no intended target.

The RCMP's Garland said Wednesday that "all local politicians were considered part of the threat."

"If I wasn't the target and someone else was, my same degree of concern and empathy ... goes to them and to their family, because I just experienced it equally," Furey said. "The issue of targeting is, I think, moot at this point."

Furey said he has not previously encountered threats during his political career.

Liberal Leader Andrew Furey is vying to reclaim his seat in the Humber-Gros Morne district in the Feb. 13 election. (Paul Daly/The Canadian Press)

"It's the first time I've been, to my knowledge, the subject of an incident like this, or the likely subject of an incident like this," he said. 

"And I have to tell you, it was troubling. It was disturbing for me, for my family and for the volunteers who work in my office."

It's not clear whether anyone was in the candidate's office at the time, and Garland said she isn't privy to any information about the man's motivations.

However, a number of posts containing right-wing conspiracy theories had been shared earlier this month by a Facebook account belonging to Brake. The posts also included pro-Donald Trump and anti-mask sentiments.

Brake's Facebook feed contains multiple posts featuring references to right-wing conspiracy theories about former U.S. president Donald Trump and the COVID-19 pandemic. (George Brake/Facebook/CBC)

The RCMP says they believe there are no threats to other politicians.

The force has shared information with the Department of Justice and the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, "as its mandate includes protection of those elected to public office."

Brake will remain in custody at least until his bail hearing, scheduled for Thursday.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

Corrections

  • A prior version of this story had identified Jolene Garland's rank as constable. She is a corporal.
    Jan 28, 2021 5:55 AM NT

With files from Mark Quinn

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