Swat Team raid in rural Alberta

I just got an email on this one on Thursday before I flew out to Toronto for a Canadian Shooting Sports Association meeting, but was pleased to see a column by George Jonas in the National Post that mentioned it among other concerns.

I’ll use the cleaned up version that Jonas used in his article for illustration. The original email was a bit angrier.

Last Monday, April 16th, 4 a.m., near the hamlet of Craigmyle, Alberta, just southwest of Hanna, John Rew, age 50, was awakened to the sound of a SWAT smoke grenade smashing through his bedroom window,” wrote my correspondent. “He was thrown face down on the floor and handcuffed instantly afterward, as a second smoke grenade exploded through his TV stand in the living room, burning a hole in the floor.

The Drumheller RCMP, Calgary SWAT, and Red Deer SWAT had come for all his firearms, in particular his registered prohibited and restricted firearms, all legally registered to him.

Although their search warrant did not include any residences, Rew agreed to lead them across the farmyard to his 80-year-old mother’s house. Her basement contains Rew’s storage facility. His mother, Betty, allowed them entry and was detained for her co-operative efforts. The masked, body-armoured, assault rifle equipped [police] got what they came for. Rew was hauled away, still in handcuffs. His alleged crime: allowing his F.A.C/P.A.L [gun permits] to expire. 2:30 that afternoon he was released, promising to appear in Drumhelller court 10 am May 25th 2007.

“The authorities shut down Rew’s oilfield business for the day, turning his 20 employees away at the gate. His sister was not allowed entry to tend to their 80-year-old mother who had been devastated by the events of that morning. Ironically, the next day, April 17, our government announced an extension of the long gun registry amnesty for another year.

 My understanding is that the gentleman’s license expired some time ago, so he was in breach of the law and subject to having his firearms seized. But does that rate a 3 AM police raid complete with smoke bombs, firearms drawn and masked ERT members brought all the way from Calgary, Drumheller and Red Deer?

I have never been to Craigmyle, but it has to be smaller than Hannah and Hannah’s not a very big centre. Can you spell “overkill”?

There are also reports that this may have been generated by a disgruntled ex-employee.

Whatever. This is something that could happen to anyone. A lapsed license or a false complaint by some neighbour or whomever and you too could have an ERT team kicking your door down.

I don’t know if there is more to this story, but will keep looking into it.

11 Responses to “Swat Team raid in rural Alberta”

  1. Alphecca » Meanwhile in Canada. . . Says:

    […] storm trooper mentality over a lapsed firearm […]

  2. Keith Says:

    Back in England, where I come from, if you shoot and your doctor thinks you might be depressed, you can expect the local armed response unit to be waiting for you when you get home.

    If a shooter dumps his girlfriend and she’s feeling vindictive… it might be a late night call you get.

    true it’s not smoke grenades, but it’s not so different.

    welcome to dictatorship

  3. ptg Says:

    Ain’t totalitarianism grand?

  4. Daniel Says:

    Perfect example of the government knowing where and when to look for someone who isn’t a threat.

    He was made an example to everyone else.


    Try totally absurd.

  5. Lawrence Oshanek Says:

    We arm our police with assualt weapons and give them assualt training, we allow them to mask themselves and we encourage them to believe in their own propaganda … then we are surprised when they act in the manner they did in this case?

    The problem is one of them and us … they (police forces in Canada) no longer believe that they are part of us so that they can do whatever they want to us.

    Remind you of National Socalism?

    How to stop it is the question! Because if we do not stop it we will see more and more of this kind of unreasonable police behaviour.

  6. Vincent Says:

    There are a lot of examples of excessive use of force, but I’m not so sure that this is one of them. Rew kept a *loaded* uzi at his place, in addition to his failure to renew firearms licenses. Rumour also has it that he had previously told an inspector to F.O.. So the police had to assess the risk involved in enforcing the law, as enacted by parliament, and act according to the perceived risk.

    Although Rew is (probably) a peaceful citizen who just happens to like guns, he could have been a homicidal maniac planning to gun down the next cop who visits. If the police had sent a normal squad car to visit, and an officer got killed, the police force would be under serious scrutiny for risking the lives of its officers — who by the way, are also Canadians that the government has a responsibility to protect.

    Rew, by the way, is running for office, on the anti-government protest issue. I don’t know, but an anti-government type in the backwoods of alberta, armed with an assault weapon, sounds like reasonable grounds to me for this kind of raid.

  7. totalrecoil Says:

    Vincent, I’m not sure where you are getting your info from, but I have done a lot of searching on the internet and have found nothing to support some of the talk I have seen on some sites. I have also talked to some people who are a lot closer to the issue than I am who say that there was no loaded uzi on the premises. All of the firearms were apparently registered as required, but his crime was that he had no firearms licence. Missing the paperwork. I don’t know if telling an inspector to F Off has any basis in fact, but I am loath to believe a lot of the fantasy that plays itself out on the internet’s chat rooms.

    Rew is a local businessman who does not appear to have ever been a threat to the community. It seems to me that a couple of police officers showing up at his place of business could have handled the task fairly well.
    A 3:00 A.M. ERT raid with flash bombs and the like is pretty much way over the top from my point of view. Sort of like, ‘we have these guys here all trained and eager, let’s go up to Craigmyle in the middle of the night and give them some practice!’

    As well, the area around Hannah, Alberta may be backwoods Alberta to some, but to most of us it is rural Alberta. I come from rural Saskatchewan and although the farmers may be damned independent I would hope that doesn’t automatically make them a target for excessive police force. If it does, this country has gone a lot futher downhill than I had feared.

    Let me sum this up: If you come from rural Canada, own firearms, have real concerns about how the government is being run and then have the audacity to actually run for office, that is reasonable grounds for an early morning police raid.

    Now that IS scary.

  8. Nigel Says:

    Well now. I lived in Hanna when this all happened. As for the UZI. Hmm I just read an article in the Drumheller Times. He was aquitted as the Judge, named Clozza stated. If I as a judge dont underdstand the gun laws, how is anyone else expected to. Yes some of his firearms were unregistered. Hmm. If you look back in history, not to long ago in Russia. The KGB would on a “tip” raid your home. I did not realize Canada was a POLICE state. They could have gone to John’s business anytime during the day and picked him up. The police are very red faced at the moment according to the article. The judge deemed it Excessive. Where do we go from here. Things are not getting better. This is a case of a non-criminal being criminalized. Find it funny that when dealing with gang members they usually try and nab them as they get into or out of their car. It is a lot safer for the cops to do so. Just my thoughts on the matter.

  9. Joe Says:

    Remember this link for all those Canadians who say “the police are not sending SWAT teams to peoples homes for simple paper crimes”!!!

  10. Bill Blair's an ass Says:

    These cops must on Bill Blairs private payroll with additional “slush” funding from Wendy! The only time anyone would face this kind of take-down for a sub-minor clerical error such as not renewing a licence, is if some Politico needed to make a statement. “Compliance Through Fear and Intimidation”
    Criminal organizations impose this, so who really is the criminal?

  11. Firewire 800 Says:

    Thankfully some bloggers can write. Thank you for this blog!

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