Four “Freedom Convoy” protesters with an arsenal of guns who were ready to “use force against the police” have been charged with conspiring to commit murder, Canadian authorities said.
The group were among 11 arrested on Monday at the now-cleared border blockade in Coutts, Alberta, just north of Montana, who were protesting the country’s COVID-19 restrictions, Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) said Tuesday in a statement.
Chris Carbert, 44, Christopher Lysak, 48, Jerry Morin, 40, and Anthony Olienick, 39, are facing the charges over threats made against the RCMP, the department said.
Carbert, Lysak, and Olienick yet to have a bail hearing and remain in jail, while Morin’s bail status is unknown, the CBC reported.
“The group was said to have a willingness to use force against the police if any attempts were made to disrupt the blockade,” the Alberta RCMP said in a statement.
The quartet is also facing charges of possession of a weapon and mischief to property over $5,000. Lysak faces an added charge of uttering threats.
Police seized a large trove of weapons from three trailers when arresting the four, including 13 long guns, handguns, multiple seats of a body army, high capacity magazine, a machete and loads of ammunition, cops said. It is unclear if all the weapons belong to the four.
“The group was said to have a willingness to use force against the police if any attempts were made to disrupt the blockade,” Alberta RCMP said in a statement Monday. “This resulted in an immediate and complex investigation to determine the extent of the threat and criminal organization.”
Protestors and the Coutts mayor said the four arrested were outside agitators looking for trouble.
“The people who were actually involved in the arrests were not part of the blockade group,” Mayor Jim Willett told the Daily Mail. “They were outsiders.”
All protests at Canadian border crossings were cleared as of Wednesday afternoon, but protestors in Ottawa, the country’s capital, have shown no signs of retreating. The continued protests come as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has threatened to freeze protestors’ assets and revoke trucker’s licenses over the demonstrations.