A murder-suicide plot to open fire in public and kill a "large number of individual citizens" on Valentine's Day was foiled, police in Nova Scotia, Canada said. Authorities said that they do not believe the thwarted attack was "linked to terrorism."
A man found dead at a home in Halifax, a Canadian man and a female American suspect had been planning to go to a "public venue … with a goal of opening fire to kill citizens, and then themselves," police said. The female, 23-year-old Lindsay Kantha Souvannarath of Geneva, Illinois, and a 20-year-old man, Randall Steven Shepherd of Halifax, were charged Saturday with conspiracy to commit murder, according to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Nova Scotia.
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Souvannarath was arrested at Halifax's airport. She confessed to the plot and had prepared a number of pronouncements to be tweeted after her death, The Associated Press reported. The Geneva, Illinois, Police Department said they were assisting Canadian authorities and had recovered a number of items during a search of Souvannarath's home, but they would not disclose what was seized. The department said they had not previously had contact with Souvannarath.
A 19-year-old male suspect shot himself to death after police were tipped off about the plot and surrounded his home in Timberlea at about 1:20 a.m. local time (12:20 a.m. ET) Friday. A 17-year-old was questioned about the planned attack but was released without charge, police said.
"To be clear, all suspects are either dead or in custody," Justice Minister Peter MacKay told reporters Saturday, according to Reuters. "The attack does not appear to have been culturally motivated — therefore not linked to terrorism," MacKay said, adding that the three appear to be simply a "group of murderous misfits that were coming here, or living here, and were planning to wreak havoc and mayhem on our community."
“This is a reminder that this type of incident can happen anywhere,” said Halifax Regional Police Chief Jean-Michel Blais, who added that the threat had been “eliminated,” and urged “people to go about their daily lives.”
Souvannarath and Shepherd are set to appear in a Halifax court on Tuesday, and the investigation into the incident is ongoing, police said.
— Alastair Jamieson and Elisha Fieldstadt