Police raided the home of a controversial anti-government, pro-gun pastor on New Year’s Eve to seize a gun and ammunition after receiving concerns about a person’s wellbeing.
Carl Bromley, founder of the Life Connection Missionary Baptist Fellowship in Christchurch, received a voicemail and a letter in his mailbox explaining police had taken his rifle on the grounds they had responded to a concern regarding his suitability to hold a firearms licence.
He claimed officers “ransacked” his home in Avondale when they took his rifle, along with 500 rounds of ammunition and firearms parts.
A voicemail left by a police officer following the raid said: “Firearms licensing will be in touch regarding further inquiries regarding your suitability to be a firearms licence holder.”
“I have no criminal history, nor any complaint regarding firearms in the past. I still don’t know what this present complaint is based upon,” Bromley told Stuff.
Police said they had received information “relating to concerns around an individual’s wellbeing and the likelihood the man was armed”.
“Further enquiries by police resulted in sufficient evidence to enter the property under Section 18 of the Search and Surveillance Act, and ammunition and firearms were seized,” a spokesperson said.
“Efforts were made to contact the male but these were unsuccessful.”
Police declined to give further information on what the concerns about the individual were, saying an investigation was under way, and would not say if armed officers had carried out the raid.
Under section 18 of the Search and Surveillance Act, police may enter a person’s property without a warrant and seize or detain any firearms if they suspect they may have breached the Arms Act, if they believe a person may be incapable of having proper control of the arms or may kill or injure someone, or if there is a protection order against them under the Family Violence Act or there are grounds for one to be sought.
Bromley has repeatedly publicised controversial views on social media going back years.
In recent weeks, he has posted numerous messages criticising the Government’s Covid-19 safety and lockdown measures, showing his support for companies that have flouted laws, and told Stuff he had attended a number of anti-vaccine mandate rallies in Christchurch, though not as a speaker.
A video he posted on YouTube was removed by the social media platform, he said, for flouting its rules over disputing health advice from the World Health Organization and other health authorities.
Two years ago, Stuff revealed that in the wake of the 2019 Christchurch mosque attacks, his Facebook page was filled with posts about attacks on Christians by Muslims in Nigeria, criticisms of moves to tighten gun control and outrage at calls to drop the name of the Crusaders rugby team.
In August, police confronted him for hosting a church service which broke Covid-19 lockdown rules, prompting him reportedly to claim the Government was “seeking to rape me of my God-given right to worship Christ”, and to compare the country’s public health response to that of a totalitarian state.
Bromley said that on December 31 he received three missed calls from a private unlisted number, but chose to ignore them after having received prank calls in the past.
He and his wife Melanie returned home to find it “turned upside down”.
His instinct was to check if his gun was still in the safe, he said, but it had been ripped from a wall and opened using a key found in a drawer.
His .22 rifle had been taken, along with 500 rounds of ammunition.
Bromley said he was given the gun only a few months ago, but wouldn’t say by whom, and said he had bought the ammunition in the last month because “things are going up in price”.
Explaining why he owns a weapon, Bromley said he is not a hunter but may go possum shooting at some point.
After calling 111 to report what he thought was a burglary he checked his voicemail and realised police had confiscated his gun.
He believes he was a “target” because of his strong political views.
“I’ve got nothing to hide, I am very vocal on some matters,” he said. “My understanding is that the legislation is in regard to terrorism, espionage and drug dealing … I find this insulting to be applied to me.”
While he claims never to have made any threat about his firearms, he said he recalled mentioning in public that he owns a gun, but couldn’t remember whether he made the comment at a rally.
Bromley often records his talks and posts them to YouTube.
“I am hated by people because I am saying things that are contrary to the government narrative and policy. I call out things that need calling out,” he said.
“I may have said somewhere along the line said I am a licensed firearms’ owner, there is a possibility, but nothing threatening.
“Hand on my heart, I would never use that [gun] as a threat to anyone.”
Bromley thinks he has been unlawfully targeted and will be fighting the police action taken against him.
“I don’t believe there is anything that warranted this action. I am politically vocal and as a New Zealander I am concerned about the direction my country is going.”
Despite having been a psychiatric nurse, Bromley is not vaccinated against Covid-19.
The pastor of 30 years said he is often afraid for his safety and had sent a letter to police regarding an assault at a so-called “freedom” rally in Christchurch.
“I have recently made a complaint regarding being assaulted, slandered, defamed and the recipient of vile internet bullying, and was told by police in a letter they were too busy.”
He also wrote to Police Commissioner Andrew Coster a few weeks ago over concerns about police behaviour, but said he had not received a response.
The couple say they have heard nothing from police since the incident on New Year’s Eve.