Self-proclaimed guru may be hiding with followers in Arizona - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Self-proclaimed guru may be hiding with followers in Arizona

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MARANA, AZ (CBS5) -

We've all heard the prophecy, according to the Mayan calendar, that the world will end next month. Well a self-proclaimed guru living in Arizona and his followers took that to heart and now may be on the run. Relatives of the followers fear they may be planning a mass suicide.

"People started calling us and writing to us and then we realized actually it was something more like a sect or a cult," said Canadian journalist Michel Jean with TVA television.

He has been following this story and said Marcel Pontbriand, a former Canadian businessman-turned-cult leader, moved to Pima County, near Marana a few years ago. Since then, Jean said Canadians have taken their children and abandoned their lives to live with Pontbriand, who preaches that the world will end next month.

"He also pretends that he is the reincarnation of Jesus Christ and he also pretends he's able to heal," Jean said.

But recently relatives of the followers have grown especially concerned after at least one member wrote home speaking of a mass suicide plan.

"He's armed, he's talking of the end of the world, and his other people are not armed and so that is part of the concern," Jean said.

Jean went to Marana recently, but when he got there, Pontbriand and his followers were nowhere to be found.

"Maybe he went away because he was nervous because there was a lot of attention back here in Canada," Jean said.

That attention comes after a dozen people believed to be followers of Pontbriand were intercepted at the Canadian-U.S. border this week. Most of them were children.

"The feeling is that by sending the kids back to Canada, Pontbriand is taking some pressure off himself or his group," Jean said.

Pima County officials say they aren't looking for Pontbriand or his followers, and neither is the Marana Police Department. They said they don't believe he's in Arizona anymore. Jean said he may be because he knows the area well, but could also be in Oregon, near the Canadian border.

Copyright 2012 CBS 5 (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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