Halifax mall site of planned attack
PLOTTERS ADMIRED COLUMBINE KILLERS, COURT DOCUMENT REVEALS
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.”