Tuesday 21 November 2017

Valentine's Day massacre bid foiled

The 19-year-old suspect shot himself at a house in Timberlea, Nova Scotia (The Canadian Press /AP)
The 19-year-old suspect shot himself at a house in Timberlea, Nova Scotia (The Canadian Press /AP)

Canadian police have foiled a Valentine's Day plot by three suspects who were planning to go to a shopping centre and kill as many people as they could before committing suicide, a senior police official said.

One of the suspects shot himself dead after police surrounded his home in the Halifax suburb of Timberlea, the official said.

An American suspect confessed to the plot when she was arrested at Halifax airport in Nova Scotia.

Police and Canadian justice minister Peter MacKay said the plot was not related to terrorism.

"This appeared to be a group of murderous misfits that were ... prepared to wreak havoc and mayhem on our community," Mr MacKay said. "The attack does not appear to have been culturally motivated, therefore not linked to terrorism."

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said that friends Lindsay Kantha Souvannarath, 23, of Geneva, Illinois, and Randall Steven Shepherd, 20, of Nova Scotia, have been charged with conspiracy to commit murder.

Nova Scotia RCMP Commanding Officer Brian Brennan said the suspects planned to go to the Halifax Shopping Centre and kill as many people as they could on Valentine's Day, before taking their own lives.

He told a Halifax-area news conference that police found three long-barrelled rifles in the home of a third suspect, a 19-year-old who fatally shot himself before he could be arrested.

The American woman was arrested as she arrived at the Halifax airport and confessed to the plot, the official said, adding that she had prepared a number of pronouncements to be tweeted after her death. Shepard was also arrested early Friday at the airport where he went to meet his friend, police said.

The suspects used a chat stream and were apparently obsessed with death and had many photos of mass killings, said the official.

Police acted quickly after receiving information from the public on the Crime Stoppers tip line. The two suspects are due in court on Tuesday.

At the home of the male suspect, police saw two people leave the house who they determined were the 19-year-old's parents and pulled them over on a traffic check. They then called the suspect.

The man told police that he didn't have any guns, but shot himself as he was on his way out of the house, according to the official.

The official said police worked with Canadian border officials to find the female suspect on her flight as she was making her way from Chicago.

Police in Geneva, about 35 miles west of Chicago, searched Souvannarath's home on Friday night and seized several items. Geneva Police Commander Julie Nash refused to describe the items or their potential value as evidence, saying Canadian authorities had requested that such information not be made public.

Police said they first received information a day earlier about a potentially significant weapons-related threat. Police initially said a 17-year-old Nova Scotia teenager was also involved, but released him overnight without filing charges because of lack of evidence. Police said he remained under investigation.

The police official said the 17-year-old was already under investigation for threatening to shoot up a high school and had an outstanding warrant.

Canadian public safety minister Steven Blaney applauded the work of police in Canada and Geneva, Illinois, and well as border officials. The Geneva police department said they were contacted by Canadian police and had no contact with the American woman before her arrest.

Press Association

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