Two or three Canadians and an American woman apparently planned to carry out a Valentine’s Day mall massacre in Halifax, Nova Scotia, but had their plans thwarted by a call to an anonymous crime tipline less than 24 hours before it was executed.

A Canadian man and an American woman have been charged in connection with a foiled plot to carry out a mass shooting attack at a shopping mall on Valentine’s Day in Halifax, Nova Scotia, police said on Saturday.

L______ K_____ S___________*, 23, of Geneva, Illinois, and R______ S_____ S_______, 20, of Nova Scotia, were charged with conspiracy to commit murder. They are due to appear in court in Canada on Tuesday. It was not immediately clear if S___________ will be extradited to the US.

A third suspect, a 17-year-old boy from Cole Harbour who police initially considered a “person of interest”, has been released from custody after it was determined there was not “enough information or evidence” to charge him in this case, said Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) commanding officer Brian Brennan.

A fourth suspect, a 19-year-old male, killed himself on Friday after police surrounded a residence in Timberlea, a suburb of Halifax. Brennan said police seized three long-barrel rifles from the house.

The attack would have taken place in what is essentially a gun free zone inside a gun free zone; firearms ownership of any kind is heavily regulated in Canada, and concealed carry is a practical impossibility. While the attackers were apparently limited to deer rifles (one of the would-be murderers was pictured with a scoped Savage 99 hammerless lever-action rifle), there were enough firearms involved in the plot that they could have covered one another during reloads and kept up a steady stream of centerfire rifle fire against unarmed mall patrons, without any threat of a concealed carrier getting the drop on them and contesting the issue.

There likely wouldn’t have been anything like the loss of life seen in the Westgate Mall attack in Nairobi, Kenya in 2013 that saw 76 shoppers killed and 175 wounded  by four heavily-armed terrorists, but there is little doubt that the would-be killers could have easily caused a dozen casualties or more with only a little luck in their suicidal attack.

Attacks on “soft targets” such as shopping malls, schools, concerts, and sporting events are the scenarios that keep counter-terrorists and SWAT officers awake at night, and have been blessedly few and far between so far in North America.

 

* Bearing Arms does not publish the names of mass or spree killers, successful or attempted. We will not give them the pathetic fame they crave.