Sentencing hearing begins for American woman over role in Halifax mall shooting plot
The sentencing hearing for an American woman who pleaded guilty for her role in a plot to commit a mass killing at a mall in Halifax began on Monday.
Lindsay Kantha Souvannarath, of Geneva, Ill., is appearing in Nova Scotia Supreme Court after she entered a guilty plea to the charge of conspiracy to commit murder at a routine court appearance last April.
The maximum punishment for the charge is a sentence of life in prison.
The sentencing hearing is scheduled to last five days.
Souvannarath, along with Randall Steven Thomas Shepherd and James Gamble, was involved in a 2015 plan to use rifles and Molotov cocktails on people at the food court in the Halifax Shopping Centre on Valentine’s Day.
One of the trio, Shepherd, pleaded guilty in 2015 to a charge of conspiracy to commit murder. He’s currently serving a 10-year prison term.
Gamble killed himself when police surrounded the home where he lived. Law enforcement were tipped off about the plot by a tip to Crime Stoppers.
According to an agreed-upon statement of facts entered at Shepherd’s sentencing, Gamble and Souvannarath, who was Souvannarath’s online boyfriend, had planned the mall attack.
“Souvannarath had a pre-existing interest in school shootings and Nazism. The two quickly bonded over their shared interest in Columbine and other mass-shootings,” said the statement of facts.
Gamble had told Souvannarath that Shepherd, who he described as his only friend, wasn’t interested in a mass murder and asked her to take his place.
“Souvannarath was interested in being his partner and was eager to participate. They planned their attack in great detail throughout January and early February of 2015,” said the statement, noting they planned details such as the time, place, weapons to be used and “whether they would taunt the victim.”
WATCH: Randall Shepherd sentenced to decade in jail for role in mass killing plot at Halifax mall
The mall was chosen as a target because it would result in “mass panic,” the pair believed.
Gamble had obtained his father’s firearms — a lever-action hunting rifle and a single-action, 16-gauge shotgun — which he and Souvannarath planned to use.
“Both carefully selected ‘death outfits’ to be worn during the shooting, which included wearing masks … A musical soundtrack was created and they agreed to post a video of the shooting on the Internet to document the massacre,” the statement of facts read.
The pair named their plan “Der Untergan,” which is German for “the downfall,” and the massacre was to end with their own suicides.
After the police were tipped off to the plot, officers tracked down Gamble on Feb. 13, 2015.
Instead of having uniformed officers approach the residence to make an arrest, investigators decided it would be best, for safety reasons, to talk to the teen over the phone.
When Gamble was reached by phone around 9 p.m., an officer said he informed the teen that he would be arrested and taken to the police station for questioning regarding alleged threats made through social media.
As their five-minute conversation concluded, the officer said he heard a gunshot, then some clicking sounds on the phone.
Officers sent online photographs of Souvannarath to the Canada Border Services Agency at the Halifax airport, instructing agents there to detain anyone matching her description arriving on a flight that night from Chicago, via New York.
When Souvannarath arrived, she was detained by border agents. Police said she had very little in her luggage, except a book on serial killers and her “death suit.”
She has remained in custody in the provincial jail in Burnside in Dartmouth since she was arrested.
Souvannarath was supposed to be sentenced in October 2017, but it was delayed after her lawyer asked for more time for a psychologist hired by the defence to complete a report.
With files from the Canadian Press
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