American woman sentenced to life in prison for Valentine's Day shooting plot involving Halifax mall

CBC News Incident 4 months ago

An American woman who took part in a plotted Valentine's Day shooting rampage at a Halifax mall has been sentenced to life in prison.

Lindsay Souvannarath pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy to commit murder in a plan that would have seen two shooters open fire at the Halifax Shopping Centre food court in 2015. She will serve at least 10 years before she is eligible for parole.

The sentencing comes exactly 19 years after the Columbine High School massacre, something Souvannarath and her co-conspirators had said was their inspiration for the foiled plot. 

Police thwarted the planned attack after receiving an anonymous tip, but not before Souvannarath boarded a Nova Scotia-bound plane in Chicago.

Nova Scotia Supreme Court Justice Peter Rosinski called it a "very unusual and difficult case."

On Friday, Rosinski said he was satisfied that if police hadn't thwarted the plot, it would have been successful. 

Souvannarath declines to address court

Rosinski said he couldn't ignore the timing of her guilty plea. She was charged in February 2015 and pleaded guilty in April 2017 — only after she learned her social media conversations with her co-conspirator, James Gamble, would be permitted as evidence.

In his decision, Rosinski wondered what carnage would have been inflicted that day.

"One can readily infer multiple serious casualties."

He said Souvannarath remains a danger to the public.

Gamble killed himself as police surrounded his Halifax-area home, while she was arrested at the airport.

A third accomplice — a local man described in court as the "cheerleader" of the plot — was sentenced to a decade in jail.

When the judge asked Souvannarath if she would like to address the court prior to sentencing, the 26-year-old said: "I decline."

The judge had reserved his decision until Friday.

The CBC's Carolyn Ray and Kayla Hounsell are live blogging from the sentencing. Those on mobile can follow along here.

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