One person is dead and three others, including a woman from suburban Chicago, have been arrested after Canadian authorities foiled an alleged Valentine’s Day mass shooting plot in Nova Scotia, police said.
According to a statement from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Nova Scotia, officers received a tip early Thursday about a “potential significant weapons-related threat” involving a 19-year-old man from Timberlea, Nova Scotia and a 23-year-old woman from Geneva, Ill.
The duo planned to open fire in a public venue in the Halifax region of Nova Scotia on Feb. 14 and “kill citizens, and then themselves,” said Brian F. Brennan, commanding officer of the Nova Scotia RCMP. He declined to specify the target of the planned attack.
The Associated Press, citing a senior police official, said the suspects had planned to carry out their attack at a Halifax mall. The alleged plotters were on a chat stream and obsessed with killing and death, the official told the AP.
Had they gone through with the alleged plan, Brennan said, “the possibility for a large loss of life was definitely there.”
Police in Geneva, Ill., about 40 miles west of Chicago, confirmed late Friday that they were cooperating with law enforcement officials in Canada. Prior to the investigation, Geneva police said, the department had not had “any contact with this subject.” The woman was not identified.
Police believe two others, a 20-year-old man and a 17-year-old boy, both of Canada, are also involved, but are still trying to determine what their role was in the alleged plot, Brennan said.
Investigators say they don’t consider the plot to be related to terrorism, and say the threat was not “culturally based.”
“I would classify it as a group of individuals that had some beliefs and were willing to carry out violent acts against citizens, but there’s nothing in the investigation to classify it as a terrorist attack,” Brennan said Friday.
In the early morning hours of Friday, police surrounded a home in Timberlea. When they went inside, Brennan said, they found the 19-year-old man dead. No one else was in the home, according to police.
About 40 minutes later, the 20-year-old Canadian man, and 23-year-old Illinois woman, who was just arriving in Nova Scotia, were arrested at the Halifax airport. Later Friday morning, police arrested the 17-year-old boy without incident at a home in Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia.
Halifax Mayor Mike Savage tweeted his thanks to investigators Friday evening for their “exemplary work” protecting residents. “A city is grateful,” he wrote.
Two separate attacks aimed at members of the Canadian armed forces rocked the nation this fall, including one in which a gunman opened fire in the Canadian Parliament building and at a war memorial in downtown Ottawa, where he killed a guard.
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