July 24th, 2024

Coutts murder-conspiracy trial hears about fire power of prohibited rifle

By The Canadian Press on July 11, 2024.

A police officer has told a jury that he was able to fire 30 rounds in nine seconds using a prohibited semi-automatic rifle seized from the border blockade at Coutts, Alta. Weapons and ammunition seized by the RCMP are shown in a 2022 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - RCMP, *MANDATORY CREDIT*

LETHBRIDGE, Alta. – A police officer says he was able to fire 30 rounds in nine seconds using a prohibited semi-automatic rifle seized from the border blockade at Coutts, Alta.

Sgt. Richard Kurina with the National Weapons Enforcement Support Team testified Thursday as the Crown’s final witness in the trial of two men charged with conspiracy to commit murder of police at the 2022 protest.

Chris Carbert and Anthony Olienick were arrested after police seized the gun and other weapons, ammunition and body armour.

Court previously heard the Panther Arms rifle that fires .223-calibre ammunition was discovered in a trailer at Coutts.

Kurina told court he tested the gun using modified ammunition magazines also found in the trailer.

The magazines normally hold a maximum of five bullets, he said. A pin had been removed to allow for 30.

Kurina said police found five modified magazines. Four had 30 bullets and the other 29. He said he tested the gun first with five rounds, and it successfully fired all five.

“Then I inserted another magazine with 30 rounds of ammunition into it, chambered a round and successfully fired all 30 of those rounds. Approximate time was about 9 seconds.”

Kurina earlier testified that he counted the bullets recovered from the trailer and a modular home on the Coutts property.

There were 7,127 bullets, he said.

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

The trial previously heard from undercover officers who posed as volunteers at the blockade.

They testified Olienick said he believed Mounties were the tools of “devil” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and deserved to be hanged. They said he told them if police raided the blockade, he would “slit their throats.”

Carbert also sent his mother text messages warning of a war, saying he was prepared to die.

During cross-examination of Kurina, Carbert’s lawyer, Katherin Beyak, suggested the rapid firing of 30 bullets was a result of the officer’s expertise.

“You’ve pulled the trigger at least a million times?” Beyak asked.

“Yes ma’am,” Kurina replied.

“In the course of your experience … and particularly your ability to expel the rounds in nine seconds, I’m going to suggest that what you were doing was just pulling the trigger as opposed to aiming and actually taking the shot,” Beyak said.

“I was still under control aiming the shots,” the officer said.

With an updated agreed statement of facts, the Crown played seven audio files obtained from wiretap evidence.

In one recording, Olienick tells a woman the blockade has a lot of support from locals and nobody is going home. Olienick is asked about Justin Trudeau and COVID-19 mandates.

“He wants war. That’s what I keep saying. I’m telling you we’re going to go to war at some point,” Olienick says.

“No one’s going home. That’s the thing. So what do they do now? They get the military involved or the police, but the military doesn’t even want to get involved. Somebody’s going to have to give soon.”

Olienick and Carbert are also charged with mischief and possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose. Olienick faces a further charge of being in possession of a pipe bomb.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 11, 2024.

– By Bill Graveland in Calgary

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