HALIFAX — High school friends remember Lindsay Souvannarath as quiet, clean-cut and weird.
She wore yellow high heels and bright lipstick to class at her middle-class high school in suburban Chicago. She joined a role-playing club that brought Dungeons and Dragons to life, liked creative writing and contributed to the year book.
It wasn’t till later that Souvannarath embraced a “school shooter chic” aesthetic, as described in what appears to be her Tumblr blog featuring a pink swastika.
She became obsessed with Nazism, the Columbine shooting and a plot she nicknamed “Der Untergang” — a Valentine’s Day shooting spree at a Halifax shopping mall, according to her former friends and a statement of facts in the case.
It’s that plan to go on a murderous rampage at the Halifax Shopping Centre in 2015 that would lead to Souvannarath’s downfall — and a sentencing hearing that begins Monday in Nova Scotia Supreme Court.
Souvannarath pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit murder last April, several months after Randall Steven Shepherd — a Halifax man described in court as the “cheerleader” of the shooting plot — was sentenced to a decade in jail. A third alleged conspirator, 19-year-old James Gamble, was found dead in his Halifax-area home a day before the planned attack.
Luke Craggs, Souvannarath’s defence attorney, said in an interview he is recommending a sentence of 12 to 14 years, with credit for time served, while he said the Crown is recommending 20 years to life in prison.
He said his client, now 26, decided to plead guilty after a failed bid to have some social media messages tossed out.
“Once the Facebook messages were ruled admissible, then there was no defence,” he said. “Once you see some of the conversations between her and Mr. Gamble, you’ll understand why they said that.”
Lawyers for the Crown have said there were “hundreds of thousands of pages” of evidence in the case.
The conspiracy can be traced back to December 2014, when Souvannarath and Gamble began an online relationship, exchanging explicit intimate photographs and a fascination with mass shootings, a statement of facts in the Shepherd case said.
The two began plotting an attack. They talked about weapons, ammunition, clothes, the number of dead, “whether they would taunt the victims,” and whether to upload pictures to the internet as the massacre unfolded, the document said.
The two picked the Halifax Shopping Centre because it meant “mass panic,” it said. They would start at the food court, which they thought would give them the best cover, using guns owned by Gamble’s father as well as a knife, the statement said.
The massacre was to end with their own suicides.
Shepherd wasn’t part of these conversations, but he knew what they were planning, and offered to provide bottles for Molotov cocktails. He planned to kill himself before the attack.
Souvannarath left her home in Geneva, Ill., on Feb 13, 2015, and flew to Halifax on a one-way ticket, allegedly carrying her “death outfit” and books on serial killers in her luggage.
But the plan began to fall apart before she landed …read more