Hal­i­fax mall site of planned at­tack


Lethbridge Herald - - HEADLINE NEWS - Brett Bun­dale

They started send­ing on­line mes­sages to each other on Dec. 21, 2014, an in­nocu­ous on­line chat about cof­fee and cre­ative writ­ing.

But the con­ver­sa­tion be­tween Lind­say Sou­van­narath and James Gam­ble quickly de­volved into a shared ad­mi­ra­tion for the Columbine killers, mass shoot­ings and a mur­der­ous con­spir­acy to go on a Valen­tine’s Day shoot­ing ram­page at a Hal­i­fax mall in 2015.

The Face­book mes­sages, shared over seven weeks, were en­tered into ev­i­dence Mon­day at the sen­tenc­ing hear­ing for Sou­van­narath, who pleaded guilty to con­spir­acy to com­mit mur­der last April.

The Crown is rec­om­mend­ing a sen­tence of 20 years to life in prison, while the de­fence says the sen­tence should be 12 to 14 years, with credit for time served.

Nova Sco­tia Supreme Court Jus­tice Peter Rosin­ski re­served his de­ci­sion un­til Fri­day, call­ing it a “very un­usual and dif­fi­cult case.”

When the judge asked Sou­van­narath if she would like to ad­dress the court prior to her sen­tenc­ing, the 26-year-old from the Chicago sub­urb of Geneva, Illi­nois, said only “I de­cline.”

Crown at­tor­ney Shauna MacDon­ald said Sou­van­narath hasn’t re­nounced her views, and re­mains an on­go­ing dan­ger to the pub­lic.

“We have no ev­i­dence be­fore us that her views have changed in any way,” she said out­side the court­room, adding that the plot came very close to be­ing car­ried out.

“The sense of safety and se­cu­rity in the com­mu­nity has been changed be­cause peo­ple now know that this can hap­pen in Hal­i­fax, and it al­most did.”

Sou­van­narath’s co­con­spir­a­tor, 19-year-old James Gam­ble, killed him­self as po­lice tried to ar­rest him at his Hal­i­fax-area home a day be­fore the planned at­tack. Ran­dall Steven Shep­herd — a Hal­i­fax man de­scribed in court as the “cheer­leader” of the shoot­ing plot — was sen­tenced to a decade in prison in 2016.

The 1,205 pages of mes­sages be­tween Sou­van­narath and Gam­ble were ob­tained by the Kane County Court in Illi­nois, which or­dered Face­book to pro­duce the chat logs.

The con­ver­sa­tion ex­poses grue­some de­tails about the foiled plot to kill as many peo­ple as pos­si­ble in the food court of the Hal­i­fax Shop­ping Cen­tre, and shaped much of an agreed state­ment of facts pre­sented to court Mon­day.

“They both ex­pressed en­thu­si­asm for the pain/death they were go­ing to cause,” the doc­u­ment said. “They both deeply de­sired to achieve in­famy and no­to­ri­ety through the mass killing of oth­ers.”

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