Halifax mall plotters admired Columbine killers, court document reveals
By The Canadian Press
HALIFAX — The co-conspirators in the foiled Valentine's Day shooting plot at a Halifax mall admired the Columbine killers and hoped to inspire other mass shootings, a Nova Scotia Supreme Court judge heard Monday.
By The Canadian Press
“They both expressed enthusiasm for the pain/death they were going to cause,” according to an agreed statement of facts presented Monday at a sentencing hearing for 26-year-old Lindsay Souvannarath of the Chicago suburb of Geneva, Illinois.
“They both deeply desired to achieve infamy and notoriety through the mass killing of others.
“They revelled in thinking about the pain and anguish their families would feel at their horrendous act. They hoped their massacre would inspire others to do the same.”
Souvannarath pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit murder last April, several months after Randall Steven Shepherd — a Halifax man described in court as the “cheerleader” of the shooting plot — was sentenced to a decade in prison.
A third alleged 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 on the Halifax Shopping Centre.
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,” the Crown lawyer 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.”
Both Souvannarath and Gamble were unemployed and lived with their parents.
Gamble had previously asked Shepherd — one of his few friends — to join the plot. Shepherd resisted, but helped Gamble prepare, including recording videos of where the attack was to occur.
The agreed statement says Souvannarath and Gamble had met online four days before the previous Christmas and 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.
It says 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.”
They spent about seven weeks plotting a plan they called “Der Untergang” — The Downfall.
“Souvannarath and Gamble repeatedly stated that they were adopting the personas of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, respectively. They would often refer to each other by the nicknames of Harris (Reb) and Klebold (VoDKa),” the agreed statement said.
“They would quote passages to each other from the publicly accessible journals of Harris and Klebold.”
They chose the mall as their target to cause “mass panic,” and planned to begin in the food court, which they thought would provide the best cover.
The pair planned to wear masks and use a shotgun and hunting rifle owned by Gamble’s father, and begin the massacre with Molotov cocktails, it said. After the massacre, they planned to kill each other.
“They believed their destiny was to commit this massacre,” according to the agreed statement.
“She commented that committing a mass killing would punish the popular and hurt those who never understood her.”
Gamble had planned to kill his parents before the massacre, and then he and Souvannarath, who were both virgins, would consummate their relationship.
They had planned Tumblr posts for the day after the massacre, to boast about the shooting.
The plot was foiled through an anonymous, detailed tip to Crime Stoppers, including Gamble’s name and the air travel plans of “an Asian female, known as Lindsay.”
Souvannarath has been in custody since her arrest after arriving at the Halifax airport on a one-way ticket from Chicago, according to the agreed statement.
The agreed statement said Souvannarath saw herself as racially and intellectually superior and “expressed her belief that she is a sex goddess with superior intellect who is entitled to cull the inferior,” and that “racial and ethnic realities must be righted through violence.”
It includes a transcript of her conversation with an undercover officer posing as a fellow prisoner, with her laughing as she detailed her plot: “It was going to be a Valentine’s Day massacre.”
The agreed statement also has a note found in her cell, framing the plans for a murder plot with romantic urgency: “I was to be his Eric Harris and He (sic) would be my Dylan Klebold … Eventually, I realized that we really were Eric and Dylan, their minds having taken refuge in our bodies some time after their demise in 1997.”
Luke Craggs, the defence attorney for Souvannarath, says he is recommending a sentence of 12 to 14 years, with credit for time served.
MacDonald pointed to sentences given out in several terrorism cases in justifying a recommendation for a sentence of 20 years to life in prison.
“Some of the facts … in the terrorism cases point to a desire to indiscriminately kill (and) to destabilize a community,” she said outside the courtroom. “That’s what makes the terrorism cases most comparable to the situation we have here.”
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