Public Safety

Coe graduate given life sentence in Canadian mall plot

Lindsay Souvannarath was said to be inspired by Columbine shooting

Lindsay Souvannarath arrives at court in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, in this file photo from March 6, 2015. Souvannarath and Randall Shepherd, accused of plotting a shopping mall massacre in the Halifax in February 2015, appeared in court July 7, 2015 for a preliminary hearing. (Darren Pittman/Reuters)
Lindsay Souvannarath arrives at court in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, in this file photo from March 6, 2015. Souvannarath and Randall Shepherd, accused of plotting a shopping mall massacre in the Halifax in February 2015, appeared in court July 7, 2015 for a preliminary hearing. (Darren Pittman/Reuters)

TORONTO — An American woman, inspired by the 1999 Columbine school shooting, has been sentenced to life in a Canadian prison for her role in an aborted Valentine’s Day mass shooting plan at a shopping mall in 2015.

Lindsay Souvannarath, 26, who graduated from Coe College in Cedar Rapids in 2014, pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy to commit murder. A Canadian man also accused in the plot, Randall Shepard, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2016.

The two were accused of planning a mass murder and suicide at the shopping center in the Atlantic province of Nova Scotia. They were arrested at the Halifax airport after Souvannarath arrived from Illinois, allegedly to carry out the massacre.

Souvannarath, who has been incarcerated since 2015, will have to serve at least seven more years before she is eligible for parole.

Her lawyer could not immediately be reached for comment.

Crown prosecutor Mark Heerema said that Souvannarath’s failure to renounce her intentions or ideologies lowered her likelihood of rehabilitation.

“The court found beyond a reasonable doubt that Ms. Souvannarath, if not stopped by the authorities, would have committed a mass murder at the shopping mall,” Heerema said. “So the fact that these authorities were able to foil her plot, she doesn’t get credit for that.”

Souvannarath and Shepard were arrested after police received a tip about their alleged plans to shoot as many people as possible at the Halifax Shopping Centre and then kill themselves. A third man believed linked to the plot was found dead in a house in Halifax.

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The two men were childhood friends in Halifax and reportedly met Souvannarath online. All three admired the two teenagers who killed 12 students and a teacher in the high school shooting in Columbine, Colo. in 1999, according to media reports.

While at Coe College, Souvannarath reviewed manuscripts for the Coe Review for two years and had one of her pieces, “My Pet Skeleton,” published online.

Some who knew her at the college at the time have described her writings as fantasies, sometimes with dark themes.

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