A judge has ordered a psychological report for a Chilliwack man who got the attention of national security authorities thanks to a series of online videos where he poses with survival gear, guns and knives threatening to do harm to Muslims.
Seth Robert Tait, 27, was on trial May 18 and 19 facing two charges in connection with the videos on his “Soldier of Christ” YouTube channel: possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose and uttering threats.
In a series of three often incoherent and barely audible videos posted on Nov. 24, 2016, entitled The Time Approaches, Tait speaks into a camera dressed in military garb and brandishing two handguns (that he says are BB guns), a shotgun, various knives, machetes, saws and other survival gear.
In the muffled audio, Tait can be heard preaching verses from the Bible and talking about all manner of conspiracy theories.
“There are Muslims that are here that rape little babies to death in gangs and force mothers to watch,” he says in one video.
In later videos – which are still posted on YouTube – played for Judge Gary Cohen in provincial court last week, Tait talks about conspiracies and refers to himself as a “truther,” a term used to describe people who doubt generally accepted science and media accounts of events.
In one video, Tait talks about chemtrails, a common conspiracy that suggests the trails left in the sky by airplanes in certain conditions are actually intentionally spread chemicals meant for population control, or other purposes.
“They are literally making the sky a giant TV screen,” Tait said in one video, before which he said that as long ago as 1972, “‘They’ had the technology to fake the second coming of Christ.”
He also suggests the Pope is preparing to baptize aliens, and that aliens are going to land, “but they are not aliens, they are demons.”
Most of the videos are interspersed with Biblical verses to supposedly back up his arguments. In one video, he poses with a machete on which he says he has written the words from Psalm 144.
But it is the videos about Muslims that got the attention of someone in Manitoba who alerted authorities after the Jan. 29 shooting at a Quebec mosque. That led to Tait’s arrest on Feb. 5, 2017 by the RCMP’s Emergency Response Team (ERT) outside the apartment where he was living downtown Chilliwack.
Crown counsel John Lester cross-examined Tait in court on Friday about a number of things said in the videos, including that he had a machete that’s good for cutting up bodies, and that he wanted to get some pork bullets “to shoot up Muslim asses.”
“You would agree an ordinary person would consider that a threat?” Lester asked.
“Yes,” Tait responded.
In one video, Tait shows off what he says is an air pistol saying “This thing will put a hole in a Muslim terrorist’s skull.”
In another, he says “If I wasn’t a Christian I’d probably have 10 corpse grinders by now.”
When he was arrested, Tait was found with a large, unsheathed hunting knife in the back of an acquaintance’s SUV in a parking lot at Nowell Street and Yale Road. That knife was shown in court and marked as a piece of evidence.
At the first day of his trial on May 18, Tait showed up wearing jeans, a white collared shirt with a blazer with the words “Free Speech” written on the back of one of his hands in black marker. During a break, he walked back and forth on the courthouse steps holding full-sized Canadian and U.S. flags.
Tait’s lawyer Bobby Movassaghi put his defendant on the witness stand and asked him questions about the videos. The defence’s focus was on free speech and Movassaghi repeatedly asked Tait if he intended to act on anything said in the videos, to which he replied in the negative.
When asked what the purpose was of some of his comments, such as encouraging people to get a gun and suggesting his BB gun could put a bullet through a Muslim terrorist’s skull, Tait replied that some of his comments were embarrassing to see replayed in court.
“The things I’ve said here I greatly, greatly regret,” he said.
When pressed on a number of matters, however, by Lester, Tait maintained his beliefs on the witness stand.
In response to one homophobic video Lester asked Tait about, the young man suggested he had many gay friends, but added: “Bakeries in the U.S. …. if they don’t agree to make cakes for gay couples they literally shut their business down and ruin their lives.”
Tait also claimed on the stand that Christians are “some of the most persecuted people on Earth” and Islam is incompatible with the West.
During Tait’s bail hearing 11 days after he was arrested on Feb. 16, Judge Robert Gunnell asked whether mental health was an issue. His lawyer said it was not. At the end of the trial on May 19, Cohen said that after seeing the videos he was surprised Tait’s mental state had not been addressed.
“The issue of your client’s competence was raised by a number of statements in these videos,” Cohen said.
Lester suggested an assessment was not something Crown was in a position to ask for, and Movassaghi did not ask for one. Cohen then ordered Tait attend the forensic psychiatric facility in Surrey for an assessment under section 672.11 of the criminal code to see if Tait should be exempt from criminal responsibility due to mental disorder.
That report is likely to take at long as two months to complete. Tait’s next court date is set for July 18 to check the status of that report.