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Blogs reveal former Coe student's fixation on violence
CEDAR RAPIDS — A former Coe College student implicated in a foiled plot to open fire at a Canadian shopping mall was a talented yet dark writer, a loner who held a fascination with neo-Nazism and the Columbine High School massacre, according to local acquaintances and online posts.
Lindsay Souvannarath, 23, most recently of near Chicago, is one of three people suspected of planning to carry out the attack Saturday at a Halifax, Nova Scotia, mall, authorities said.
One blog item apparently posted by Souvannarath depicts two people in masks — one of which seems to be her — with the text: 'Valentine's Day. It's going down.'
Her apparent Tumblr blog invokes the nicknames of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, shooters in the 1999, killings at Colorado's Columbine High School.
'Eric and Dylan are dead, but REB and VoDKa live,' the blog reads. 'IT'S ALMOST HERE THE CLOCK IS TICKING.'
Authorities say Souvannarath and Canadians Randall Steven Shepherd, 20, and James Gamble, 19, planned to go to the mall to kill as many people as possible. Gamble was discovered dead in a Halifax house.
Authorities have not said just when they believe planning for the would-be attack got underway, but said the suspects met online.
Souvannarath graduated from Coe College in 2014 with a double major in English and creative writing, the college confirmed. She began attending in 2010.
Monday, Coe spokesman Rod Pritchard said the school would not comment on her time at Coe, including whether employees had raised any warning flags about her then. He did say no law enforcement authorities had contacted the college about the investigation.
Those who spoke with The Gazette said Souvannarath kept a low profile on campus, seldom speaking to classmates and participating in discussions only when prodded by teachers.
Coe senior Christa Angelios was a co-editor on an issue of the Coe Review that contained one of Souvannarath's writings, 'My Pet Skeleton,' in 2013.
Angelios pushed for its inclusion in the issue, she said.
'It was dark, but it was humorous, in the kind of way that I could see a Tim Burton piece being humorous,' Angelios said. 'Good writing is good writing, regardless of what the writer does or does not do in any sort of personal life. I don't think the Coe Review ought to be ashamed of publishing her or having her on staff.'
Sunday, one of Souvannarath's former Coe professors, Charles Aukema, praised her as a talented writer but one who occasionally drifted into 'forbidden territory' in her work.
Aukema said Souvannarath was quiet and didn't participate much in class.
Angelios said she tried to be friendly to Souvannarath, but that her classmate 'actively ignored people.'
'I've been in classes with her since my freshman year,' Angelios said. 'I would see her around campus and try to say 'Hi' to her, but she would act like she didn't hear me. She hardly talked to most people,'
Angelios said many of her fellow students were aware that Souvannarath 'had a reputation' for being fascinated with Nazism.
'She didn't talk about it,' Angelios said. 'But people could see her Facebook and her blogs.'
A Tumblr blog that appears to be Souvannarath's is titled 'school shooter chic' and features a pink swastika.
While many posts on the page are photos of models, there also are photos of Nazi soldiers marching in front of Adolf Hitler, security images from Columbine, clips of Harris and Klebold and a picture of what appears to be a movie title screen with 'Saturday the 14th' written in bloody letters.
Two months before her arrest, a blog photo shows Souvannarath wearing a T-shirt depicting a double-headed eagle, an image associated with Nazi Germany.
'More pictures of this shirt because I love it and it totally looks like something Eric Harris would wear (or at least covet),' the blog reads.
In January, Souvannarath was asked on the blog if she identified as a Nazi.
'For the sake of simplicity, I'll say yes, I am,' the reply reads. 'It is how I will be perceived regardless of how I choose to label myself, and I accept it.'
Souvannarath has links to another Tumblr page, 'shallow-existences,' which media outlets identified as belonging to Gamble. His blog contains dozens of images of Harris and Klebold, weapons and gore.
Souvannarath and Shepherd face conspiracy to commit murder charges, according to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and are expected at a Halifax court appearance Tuesday.
Vanessa Miller of The Gazette contributed.