The armed man arrested after allegedly ramming his truck through the front gate of Rideau Hall always had a friendly word for customers who came to the grocery store where he worked in a small municipality about 400 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg, the town reeve said.
Corey Hurren, of Bowsman, Man., was a “good community member,” known for his friendly demeanour behind the local grocer’s meat counter, and for cooking garlic sausage his customers raved about, said Walter Pacmaniuk, the reeve of the municipality of Mintonas-Bowsman.
“When I walked by him, it was not just, ‘No answer,’ it was, ‘Hello, how are you doing today?'” Pacamaniuk said.
The reeve said he didn’t know Hurren personally, aside from their friendly but brief interactions at the Co-op grocery store in the neighbouring community of Swan River, Man.
“We’re all a bit shocked that something happened in Ottawa,” he said.
Hurren, whom CBC News has confirmed is the man in custody, was armed when his vehicle ran into the main pedestrian entrance at Rideau Hall Thursday around 6:30 a.m. ET.
Drove from Manitoba
The suspect then ran off toward Rideau Hall greenhouse. Police officers on foot caught up to him and arrested him, RCMP said.
While both Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Gov. Gen. Julie Payette reside on the grounds, neither of them were present at the time.
Sources say Hurren had driven from Manitoba and had a long gun and a note in his possession. His vehicle had Manitoba licence plates.
He was living in Bowsman, which is 386 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg. The community, which has a population of less than 300, is one of the most northerly farming communities in the province.
Hurren also operated Grindhouse Fine Foods, which he launched in 2014, according to a LinkedIn account registered to Hurren.
In promotional material for his meat-producing business, Hurren is described as a Royal Canadian Artillery veteran who has recently rejoined the military as a Canadian Ranger.
People who answered two phone numbers associated with Hurren’s family members declined to speak to media Thursday evening. But recent social media posts, associated with Grindhouse Fine Foods and Corey Hurren, provide some details into his background and business.
The posts also indicate a concern about the impact of COVID-19 on the economy, but don’t provide insight into why he travelled to Ottawa.
Roughly an hour before Hurren entered the Rideau Hall grounds, a Facebook page associated with his Grindhouse Fine Foods business posted a meme of a big outdoor party that would supposedly occur after the lockdown.
The post also directs people to look up “Event 201,” a conspiracy theory that suggests Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is behind COVID-19.
Otherwise, Facebook posts from Hurren’s business appear to poke fun at the hardships and fears spawned by the pandemic. The page shows a fondness for the military as well.
In the same Facebook post from the Grindhouse account, Hurren acknowledges that his meat-selling business is on pause during the pandemic.
“I am not sure what will be left of our economy, industries, and businesses when this all ends,” he writes.
“I would like to continue on with my meat products when my volunteer contract with the military is done, whenever that is.”
Hurren is an active member of the Bowsman Lions Club, a member of the volunteer club told CBC News.
Served with the Royal Canadian Artillery
He’s known for his “Ring of Fire” jalapeno garlic sausage brand, which his Facebook page says is a must-have for “hot and spicy fans.”
The Swan Valley Star and Times reported in 2018 that Hurren’s “ring of garlic sausage with a considerable kick” was hard to find at the Co-op grocery store where he’s the in-house meat expert.
A LinkedIn page under Hurren’s name notes he grew up on a farm in the Swan River Valley and worked in different parts of the meat and livestock industry for more than 20 years before starting Grindhouse Fine Foods.
The page says he studied computer and information sciences at Brandon University and Red River College in Manitoba.
A Facebook post from the Bowsman Lions Club said Hurren served with the Royal Canadian Artillery in the late 1990s in Yorkton, Sask.