Update: This post has been updated to include the charges against Corey Hurren and comment from Marc-André Argentino.
Less than an hour before Corey Hurren allegedly drove his pickup truck through the gates of Rideau Hall, where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau lives, a social media account for his business posted a meme that blames the global elite for COVID-19.
At 6:05 AM, the Instagram account for Grindhouse Fine Foods, the company Hurren operates, posted a meme relating to Event 201—a pandemic training event put on in part by the Bill Gates Foundation. At 6:40 AM, RCMP said Hurren rammed his truck, which contained multiple firearms, through the gates hard enough to set his airbags off. He left the truck on foot with a rifle in his hand and was intercepted by RCMP officers who, after hours of negotiation, were able to take him into custody without incident just before 8:30 A.M.
On Friday afternoon, RCMP announced a slew of firearms charges against Hurren, a member of the Canadian Armed Forces Reserve. They include: four counts of careless use of a firearm, four counts of illegally transporting of a firearm, four counts of possession of a weapon for a dangerous reason, one count of possession of of a prohibited devices, four counts of possession of a restricted firearm with ammunition, and one count of uttering threats. Hurren attended a bail hearing Friday afternoon but it was pushed back until July 17. He will remain in police custody till then.
RCMP Deputy Commissioner Mike Duheme said there was never any danger to Trudeau or Governor General Julie Payette as they weren’t at their homes at the time of the incident. While the RCMP says the man had “several weapons” on him they did not elaborate about the specifics of the weapons.
Citing anonymous sources, several media outlets have reported that Hurren was armed with several rifles and a shotgun, at least one of which was on him at the time of his arrest. Hurren also allegedly had a note on him that he wished to deliver to Trudeau.
According to LinkedIn, Hurren has operated Grindhouse Fine Foods, a meat company, since 2014. The company’s Instagram account features posts that are related to the business, such as images of sausages, and others that are personal in nature, such as photos of Hurren.
On March 27, Grindhouse Fine Foods posted a QAnon meme. It features a white rabbit (the mascot for the conspiracy) at the wheel of a car. The Instagram caption says: “Has anyone else been following 'Q' and the 'White Rabbit' down the rabbit hole and how this all relates to the coronavirus/COVID-19 situation? Lots of coincidences in all these 'Q' posts if this turns out to be a 'Nothingburger'." He then lists a plethora of conspiracies in the hashtags which include the killing of Seth Rich, adrenochrome, pizzagate, pedogate, and several related to sex offender Jeffery Epstein. The account also posted several hashtags linked to QAnon like WWG1WGA, a storm is coming, and the deep state.
QAnon is a wide-ranging conspiracy in the United States that focuses on Donald Trumps battles with deep state enemies.
Marc-André Argentino, a PhD candidate at Concordia University who studies QAnon and similar movements, flagged Hurren's post to VICE. Argentino said Hurren's posts indicate that he's not a die-hard QAnon adherent, but may have gotten into the movement during the pandemic because of economic and political stress. However, Argentino stressed that we still don’t have the full picture of what Hurren believes at the moment.
“He's consumed enough of the content to know the very specific hashtags to use,” said Argentino.
The meme Grindhouse posted shortly before Hurren allegedly rammed the gates at Rideau Hall was also posted to the account in May. It refers to Event 201, an international training exercise put on by Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the World Economic Forum in October 2019. The exercise was to test the readiness of the world in the event of a global pandemic. Many conspiracy theorists believe it indicates that Bill Gates, alongside other elites, orchestrated the pandemic.
Hurren is from Bowsman, Manitoba, one of the northernmost farming communities in the province. In Grindhouse’s social media posts, Hurren frequently refers to the fact he’s a veteran who recently rejoined the military as a Canadian Rangers member. The Rangers are a part of the national reserve that serve in remote regions.
A robot with the bomb squad recovered a collection of military rations in Hurren's vehicle following the arrest.
In one of Grindhouse’s Instagram posts, Hurren said he had to temporarily shut down his business because of COVID-19.
"As some of you may already know, things have been on hold with my GrindHouse meat products due to the logistics of the COVID-19 situation," he wrote. "I am not sure what will be left of our economy, industries, and businesses when this all ends."
For most of the year, the posts focused on his company (his Ring of Fire sausage, in particular,) his time with the Rangers, and survivalism. That changed in March when COVID-19 hit, and the posts became far more focused on the pandemic and began to reference conspiracies.
The day before Hurren allegedly rammed the gates, an anti-Trudeau rally took place in Ottawa. While the rally was about a variety of subjects, including pushing back on COVID-19 safety measures, many of the attendees were adherents of the conspiracy. Footage of the gathering, which drew hundreds of people, was amplified by Q, the central figure of the QAnon conspiracy. Photos of the event show many attendees holding signs relating to Q. The group chanted “where we go one we go all,” the main slogan of the conspiracy.
There is no evidence directly linking Hurren to the rally. Duchene said at the press conference that as far as he knew, the suspect was “not in Ottawa for another reason” but declined to go into any details relating to his travel or activities in Ottawa prior to breaking through the gates of Rideau Hall armed.
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This article originally appeared on VICE US.