Asst. Commissioner Brian Brennan, the senior Mountie in the province, says a man who was found dead in a Halifax area home early Friday intended to go to a public place with a woman and open fire on citizens before killing themselves.
Police received information from the public on Thursday morning of a potential significant weapons-related threat. The information suggested a 19-year-old Halifax area man and a 23-year old woman from Geneva, Ill., had access to firearms, Brennan said.
"We received a threat that individuals were planning on targeting a public venue in Halifax, to go there and commit mass killings of civilians and to ultimately kill themselves," Brennan said in a phone interview Friday night.
"Given the public venue that we believe was to be targeted, there was the potential for significant casualties and injury to citizens."
Brennan would not say which venue was being targeted, but the Associated Press reported late Friday, citing an unnamed police official, that the target was a shopping mall.
He says two other male suspects, ages 20 and 17, were also involved, although he says investigators were still trying to determine what their role was.
Brennan said firearms have been seized, although he could not say what kind, how many, or where the weapons were seized.
"The weapons seized had the ability to inflict a lot of casualties if used in a populated area," said Brennan.
Police say they found the 19-year-old man dead at a home in the Halifax area around 1:20 a.m. Friday.
Brennan would not elaborate on the circumstances surrounding his death, saying the issue has been referred to the province's Serious Incident Response Team, which reviews all serious incidents involving police in the province.
A statement from the Serious Incident Response Team, known as SiRT, said police found the man dead when they entered the residence.
A police official, who spoke anonymously because the official was not authorized to speak publicly, told The Associated Press the 19-year-old male shot himself to death after police surrounded his parent's home. The official said after police were tipped off about the plot they surrounded his home. Police saw his parents leave the house and called the man. As the man told police that he didn't have any guns and he was on his way out of the house he shot himself, the official said.
Brennan said the 20-year-old man and 23-year-old woman were arrested around 2 a.m. at the Halifax airport. He said the woman was arriving on a plane and the man was there to meet her.
The 17-year-old boy was arrested around 11 a.m. in the Halifax area, he said. Brennan said all three suspects remain in police custody and there's no word on charges.
Brennan would not characterize the alleged plot as terrorism, saying the views of the individuals "were not based in religion or culture."
"(These) people were of the same destructive mindset," he said, although he would not elaborate on the nature of their mindset.
Brennan said he's "extremely confident" that all participants in the incident have been arrested.
"We're very, very confident that we got all those that we needed to get," he said. "There is no further threat... to the general public."
Federal Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney applauded police efforts.
"These arrests are a great example of the fine work they do on a daily basis to help keep Canadians safe," he said in a statement on Friday.
Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil also praised police.
"On behalf of all Nova Scotians, I thank our police officials, here and in the United States, for their quick and professional work. We are grateful for their dedication and vigilance," he said in the statement.
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With files The Associated Press