Canadian police identified Lindsay Kantha Souvannarath, 23, of Geneva, Illinois, Saturday as one of three suspects who allegedly planned to open fire on Valentine's Day shoppers at a Halifax, Nova Scotia, shopping mall and then commit suicide. Souvannarath reportedly confessed to the plot after authorities arrested her at the Halifax airport.
Authorities said Souvannarath, along with co-conspirator Randall Steven Shepherd, 20, of Nova Scotia and an unnamed 19-year-old, was fixated on death and collected images of mass murders. Geneva, Illinois, police searched and removed evidence from Souvannarath’s home Friday, but did not describe what they discovered.
“This appeared to be a group of murderous misfits that were … prepared to wreak havoc and mayhem on our community. The attack does not appear to have been culturally motivated, therefore not linked to terrorism,” said Canadian Justice Minister Peter MacKay, according to the Associated Press.
Canadian Police moved on the suspects after receiving a tip on a Crime Stoppers phone line. Souvannarath was apprehended about 2 a.m., local time, Friday, CNN reported. Shepherd was arrested when he traveled to the airport to meet with the third suspect. Both Souvannarath and Shepherd were charged with conspiracy to commit murder and are to appear in court Tuesday. The third suspect died before police, who surrounded his home, were able to arrest him.
"Had they been able to carry out their intentions the possibility for a large loss of life was definitely there," said Nova Scotia Royal Canadian Mounted Police Commanding Officer Brian Brennan, according to CBS News.
Police found three rifles in the third suspect’s Halifax home. Authorities did not initially disclose the manner of the suspect’s death, but a senior official later confirmed he shot himself as he exited the building. "He was one of those people who kept to himself, not a people person," the suspect’s neighbor said.
A fourth individual, identified as a 17-year-old who was already under police scrutiny for threatening to carry out a school shooting, was also detained. However, authorities had released him by Saturday, citing a lack of evidence to connect him to the mall-shooting plot.