Mas­sacre planned on Face­book

‘Deeply de­sired’ no­to­ri­ety of a mass shoot­ing

Regina Leader-Post - - CANADA - BRETT Bun­Dale

• 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.”

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