Massacre planned on Facebook
‘Deeply desired’ notoriety of a mass shooting
• They started sending online messages to each other on Dec. 21, 2014, an innocuous 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 conspiracy to go on a Valentine’s Day shooting rampage at a Halifax mall in 2015.
The Facebook messages 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.”
Crown attorney Shauna MacDonald said Souvannarath, a 26-year-old from the Chicago suburb of Geneva, hasn’t renounced her views, and remains an ongoing danger to the public.
Souvannarath’s co-conspirator, 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 plot — was sentenced to a decade in prison in 2016.
The messages 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.”
During their lengthy online conversation, Souvannarath and Gamble discovered they both admired the 1999 Columbine High School massacre in Colorado in which teenagers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed 13 people and themselves.
Gamble had been considering a mass killing and began to follow Souvannarath’s blog, which was filled with racist and violent material and subtitled “School Shooter Chic.”
The two soon began communicating via Facebook, exchanging sexual messages and expressing “a shared connection.”
Luke Craggs, the defence attorney for Souvannarath, argued that while many aspects of the conspiracy were planned out, there was virtually no thought afforded to “actual concrete logistics.”