A Canadian man and an American woman have been arrested in what authorities said Saturday was a foiled plot to carry out a mass murder-suicide at a Nova Scotia mall on Valentine’s Day.
The alleged plot, to spray a busy Halifax mall with gunfire, appeared to be motivated not by culture or ideology but by a small group’s desire to carry out a heinous crime, according to Canadian investigators.
Lindsay Kantha Souvannarath, 23, of Geneva, Illinois, and Randall Steven Shepherd, a 20-year-old from Halifax, were arrested early Friday, authorities said. They have been charged with conspiracy to commit murder.
“This group has been stopped and Halifax is a safe place,” said Brian Brennan, Nova Scotia Royal Canadian Mounted Police commanding officer.
Police in Illinois executed a search warrant at Souvannarath’s Geneva home and multiple unspecified items were taken, authorities in the United States said Saturday.
Authorities received a tip Thursday morning that Souvannarath and a 19-year-old Timberlea, Nova Scotia, man planned to go to a public location in Halifax with “a goal of opening fire to kill citizens, and then themselves,” Brennan said.
The 19-year-old suspect was found dead in a home, where three rifles were recovered, Brennan said. The dead man was not identified.
Another person — a 17-year-old described as a person of interest — was released because of a lack of evidence, Brennan said.
“All indications that we’re getting from police is that this was not motivated … by anything related to terrorism,” Canadian Justice Minister Peter MacKay told reporters.
Souvannarath and Shepherd were arrested at about 2 a.m. Friday at Halifax Stanfield International Airport, Brennan said.
The four people were described as friends, and Jean-Michel Blais, chief of the Halifax Regional Police, said the alleged plot had “nothing to to with ethnic or political considerations.”
The two suspects will appear in court on Tuesday.