Man arrested after threatening church patrons

By Stefanie Donahue

A man dressed in a “black tactical-style nylon vest with multiple pockets” and a holstered flare gun halted church service at Dakota Creek Christian Center last week after shouting about beheadings and the ISIS terrorist organization, according to a probable cause affidavit filed by Whatcom County deputy prosecuting attorney Brandon Waldron on October 3.

The accused, Stephen Rae Canaan, 33, was arrested on October 1 after ignoring requests to leave the church and threatening the congregation, according to the affidavit. He’s facing a class C felony harassment charge, punishable by up to five years in jail and/or a fine up to $10,000.

On October 1, Canaan’s father dropped him off at the church, located at 8732 Blaine Road, for a 10:15 a.m. church service, senior pastor Lee Connors said. Canaan wasn’t a regular at the church, but he had attended service on a few occasions over the past few years, he said. When Canaan entered the church, Connors noticed the handle of a gun sticking out from his vest. Connors approached Canaan who said it was a flare gun that had been converted to shoot shotgun shells, according to the affidavit.

After being asked to leave, Canaan became confrontational. After shouting to the congregation about “beheadings” and the ISIS terrorist group, Canaan “wished them all an honorable death,” according to the affidavit. He was escorted out of the building by a few members of the congregation and the church went on lockdown, Connors said.

Upon being searched, Whatcom County sheriff’s deputies found zip ties “large enough to be used as restraints” in Canaan’s pockets in addition to the flare gun.

During a preliminary court appearance on October 2, commissioner Alfred Heydrich ordered a mental health competency evaluation and scheduled the arraignment for Friday, October 13. A family member posted $500 bail to secure Canaan’s release on October 5.

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