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Murder-conspiracy trial hears of guns found in travel trailer near Coutts blockade

Weapons and ammunition seized by the RCMP are shown in this handout photo. An RCMP officer has told a murder-conspiracy trial that several weapons were discovered inside a travel trailer near the 2022 border blockade at Coutts, Alta. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - RCMP

LETHBRIDGE, Alta. — An RCMP officer has told a murder-conspiracy trial that several weapons were discovered inside a travel trailer parked near the 2022 border blockade at Coutts, Alta.

Sgt. Gary MacLaren testified Thursday that he went into the trailer on Feb. 14, 2022, after it had been cleared by a police emergency response team.

"There was an assault-style rifle sitting on top of the master bed. In the kitchen area, there was a shotgun sitting on a bench, some portable radios, some bear spray," MacLaren said.

"As I went down into the trailer further, there was another assault rifle on an upper bunk, on the right hand side as you entered that backroom, and a tactical vest on the floor, green in colour, and a box of ammunition."

Another rifle was found underneath the mattress, along with ammunition, in the bedroom, he said.

Officers also discovered a machete and two sets of body armour, as well as a driver's licence and a firearms acquisition certificate belonging to one of the accused, Chris Carbert.

Carbert and Anthony Olienick were charged with conspiracy to commit murder after police raided the trailer and two others parked on private property in Coutts.

The trial has heard the property owner had allowed the two accused and other protesters to stay there.

Const. Bruce Gammie, a member of the team that cleared the trailer, testified that when officers arrived they used a "loud hailing" vehicle to demand anyone inside come out.

He could see movement inside, he said, and after about five minutes one man emerged.

The man locked the door behind him, then obeyed police demands and was put in handcuffs, Gammie said, adding the man was later identified as Carbert.

The officer said no one else was found in the trailer.

Undercover officers previously testified that Olienick considered the blockade a war, and he expressed a hatred of police and a desire to kill officers.

They said Olienick also told them he had a stockpile of weapons, including dozens of firearms and thousands of rounds of ammunition.

The jury saw a video and dozens of photos taken inside the trailer. Next to the rifle on the bunk was a handgun inside a holster.

A backpack with .223-calibre ammunition was found in a closet. A full box with 500 rounds of ammunition was sitting on the floor.

Carbert's lawyer, Katherin Beyak, expressed concern that MacLaren called the rifles "assault-style" weapons.

Justice David Labrenz cautioned the jury not to read too much into the term.

"Language can seep into your thinking if you're not careful," he said.

"When you describe something as an assault rifle, don't let the description deflect you from your job in determining what the firearms that have been referred to mean in the context of all the evidence."

The blockade in protest of COVID-19 rules and vaccine mandates paralyzed traffic at the busy Canada-U. S. border crossing for two weeks.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 20, 2024.

— By Bill Graveland in Calgary

The Canadian Press

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