POLITICS

Case of two accused in shopping mall threats case most unusual of career: Crown

02/16/2015 06:04 EST | Updated 04/18/2015 05:59 EDT
HALIFAX - The Crown prosecuting two people accused of plotting to open fire on people in a Halifax shopping mall described the case Tuesday as the most unusual of her career.

Lindsay Kanittha Souvannarath, 23, of Geneva, Ill., and Randall Steven Shepherd, 20, of Halifax made their first appearances Tuesday in Halifax provincial court and had additional charges laid against them.

They were already charged with conspiracy to commit murder but have also been charged with conspiracy to commit arson, illegal possession of weapons for a purpose dangerous to the public and making a threat through social media.

Duty counsel lawyer Kishan Persaud told the court the pair won't seek bail and their cases were adjourned until March 6.

Crown lawyer Shauna MacDonald said there has been a very limited amount of disclosure in the case and both of the accused were still looking for lawyers.

"It's a very unusual (case) for here," said MacDonald, adding that the Crown would oppose bail if an application is made before the Nova Scotia Supreme Court. "I've never encountered anything like it in the years I've been around."

Asked to explain why the case is considered a conspiracy, she said the police are alleging the pair had arrived at an agreement.

"The basis of a conspiracy is an agreement, so it can be a conversation," she said.

Information sworn by Halifax police alleges the offences took place between Jan. 6 and Valentine's Day and were carried out in concert with James Lee Gamble, a 19-year-old man found dead in his Halifax home.

In an interview with CTV News, Halifax police Chief Jean-Michel Blais said the accused had extensive plans and the means to carry them out.

"We do know that they were looking at building some incendiary devices in order to burn something," he said.

None of the allegations made by police or other officials about the case have been proven in court.

The two accused were brought separately from a black police SUV and both briefly glanced towards a swarm of media as they were taken into the courthouse Tuesday.

Souvannarath entered the courtroom first, wearing a white, cowl-type sweater. Shepherd came next, wearing a black winter jacket, his long, sandy blond hair falling in front of his eyes as he sat down.

As two sheriff's deputies sat between them, both looked around the courtroom but didn't appear to acknowledge each other. For the most part, they stared ahead as the court proceeding wrapped up within five minutes.

The RCMP allege the accused were planning the attack on the Halifax Shopping Centre.

Shepherd's landlady said she was shocked to find a tin of gasoline on his bed when police arrived at her home looking for evidence.

"(The police) came and took that out," said the woman, who spoke on the condition her name not be used. "That terrified me."

The RCMP said they don't know if the woman's account is true but even if it were, they wouldn't release it publicly.

The woman said Shepherd moved in to a small spare room in her townhouse after he broke up with his girlfriend.

She said he had quit his job at a call centre just days before his arrest and during the time he stayed with the family he was attempting to meet girls online and had travelled to the United States to meet a woman.

"All of us were just really, really shocked," she said of the arrest. "This is some kind of madness."

The woman said she knew that Shepherd was friends with Gamble and she had read media reports about the disturbing social media sites associated with the deceased man.

But she said she's avoiding looking at the images on the sites. "I'm just going to be further shocked," she said.

A social networking website believed to be linked to Gamble features pictures of weapons, Nazi symbols and images relating to the Columbine school shooting. Other pictures on the Tumblr page show the young man posing with a rifle and a knife.

On Feb. 5, an image circulated on another Tumblr account featuring the 19-year-old's username and the phrase: "Valentine's Day it's going down."

Asst. RCMP Commissioner Brian Brennan also told CTV News Tuesday that the relationship between the suspects was an online one.

"The relationship was just simply an online relationship. They got together on these chat lines and developed their communications through that process," Brennan said.

When asked if there might be other alleged conspirators, he said, "There very well might be."

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version based on information from the RCMP had an incorrect spelling for the middle name of one of the accused. Her correct name is Lindsay Kanittha Souvannarath.