TORONTO — They planned to meet in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and go to a mall. There, they would pull out their guns and carry out a murderous Valentine’s Day rampage before killing themselves.
That is the plot Canadian police said Saturday that they foiled with the arrest of two suspects and the death of another.
One of the suspects, an American woman, was arrested at the Halifax airport Friday, as was an alleged accomplice. A third suspect is thought to have fatally shot himself as police moved in to arrest him.
Lindsay Kantha Souvannarath, 23, of Geneva, Ill., and Randall Steven Shepherd, 20, of Nova Scotia have been charged with conspiracy to commit murder. The two are due in court Tuesday.
Souvannarath has confessed to the plot, a senior police official told the Associated Press.
The suspects used a chat stream, were apparently obsessed with death and had many photos of mass killings, said the senior police official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly.
Police and Canadian Justice Minister Peter MacKay said the plot was not related to terrorism.
“This appeared to be a group of murderous misfits” who were “prepared to wreak havoc and mayhem on our community,” MacKay said Saturday. “The attack does not appear to have been culturally motivated, therefore not linked to terrorism.”
Brian Brennan, an assistant commissioner with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, said police found three long-barrel rifles in the home of the third suspect.
Brennan did not elaborate on how the third suspect died, but the senior police official told the AP that the 19-year-old man fatally shot himself after police surrounded his home in the Halifax suburb of Timberlea.
The senior police official said that Souvannarath confessed after she was arrested at the Halifax airport and that she had prepared a number of pronouncements to be posted on Twitter after her death. Shepherd also was arrested at the airport as he waited for his friend’s arrival.
Police acted quickly after receiving information Thursday from the Crime Stoppers tip line about a potentially significant weapons-related threat.
At the home of the 19-year-old suspect, police saw two people leave the house who they determined were the suspect’s parents and pulled them over on a traffic check. They then called the suspect.
The man told police that he didn’t have any guns, but he shot himself as he was on his way out of the house, the official told the AP.
The official said police worked with Canadian border officials to find the female suspect on her flight to Halifax from Chicago.
Police initially said a 17-year-old Nova Scotian was also involved, but police released him overnight without filing charges because of a lack of evidence. Police said the investigation was ongoing.
The police official said the 17-year-old was under investigation for threatening to shoot up a high school and had an outstanding warrant.