Police breakup doomsday cult in the Dominican Republic

Caribbean 360/October 23, 2012

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic - A judge has ordered a year-long detention for the German leader of a doomsday sect that believes in aliens while Dominican authorities investigate why he had a gun arsenal at his house that police discovered after a deadly, hour-long shootout.

Police arrested Peter Brunck, 61, of Meisenheim, Germany, his son Daniel Brunck and Isabella Dietrich after a shoot-out last Wednesday that injured three officers and resulted in the death of another German man, Peter Demetrick. They could remain in police custody for up to a year while investigations proceed.

The gunbattle occurred at Brunck’s house in an upscale residential community in the popular tourist town of Sosua. Police said Brunck apparently is leader of the "Academy for Future Health" sect, going by the title "cosmic teacher" and promising mental salvation and treatment for various illnesses.

Police said they discovered several rifles, grenades and professional crossbows with scopes along with seven bulletproof vests, a bulletproof car and an ambulance inside Brunck’s house.

A video shot by police Wednesday shows officers touring the house and seizing weapons, including an automatic rifle leaning against a wall behind a dream catcher.

General Prosecutor Francisco Dominguez said police are still investigating why Brunck had such an arsenal and whether the weapons were tied to the sect in any way.

Police also raided nearby homes inhabited mostly by German natives, police spokesman Diego Pesqueira told The Associated Press. It was unclear whether any other items were seized.

Officials with the Ministry of the Interior and Police, the agency responsible for issuing weapon permits, said they did not know Brunck had a shooting range.

Police said Brunck has lived in Sosua since 2006.

According to the sect’s website, he traveled frequently to western Europe to give dozens of seminars, charging up to $650 per person for certain presentations. Brunck warned followers about the end of the world and talked about the possibility of a "galactic super electromagnetic wave" that could destroy all communication on Earth, as well as a potential shift in polarity that could bring a new ice age in Europe or result in sea levels rising by nearly 200 feet (60 meters).

Brunck also has said he believes there are 68 varieties of aliens, and he espoused certain therapies he believed could cure ailments ranging from cancer to multiple sclerosis.

Police later seized rifles, grenades and crossbows in the exclusive neighbourhood in the seaside town popular with German immigrants.

Brito said they had found "many weapons" and other items that he said he could not release details about.

Prosecutors have described the sect as "very dangerous", saying that initial investigations showed it had links to a number of European countries.

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