A group of “murderous misfits” planned a massacre on Valentine’s Day at Canada’s largest regional shopping mall, the justice minister said on Saturday, but the alleged plot was foiled by police after an anonymous tip-off.
Police charged two people with conspiracy to commit murder and released a third suspect in the alleged plot to shoot as many people as possible in the Halifax Shopping Centre. A fourth man linked to the plot was found dead in a house in Halifax, police said.
“Based on what we know so far, it would have been devastating, mass casualties would have been a real possibility,” Justice Minister Peter MacKay said.
“The attack does not appear to have been culturally motivated, therefore not linked to terrorism.” MacKay said a 19-year-old Canadian man and a 23-year-old American woman, believed to have been in contact online, allegedly planned the shooting.
Police said they obtained information that suggested the two had access to firearms and intended to kill people, and then themselves.
“To be clear, all suspects are either dead or in custody.” Police said Lindsay Kantha Souvannarath and Randall Steven Shepherd would appear in court tomorrow.
The two were arrested at Halifax airport after Souvannarath, who arrived from Illinois, met Shepherd.
Police are also investigating the death of the unidentified 19-year-old man.
Three rifles were seized at the residence where the man was found dead, a commanding officer said.