Halifax shooting plotters ‘a group of murderous misfits,’ says Peter MacKay

Police in Nova Scotia are expected to release more details this afternoon about their investigation into « murderous misfits » who allegedly plotted to kill a large number of people in Halifax, Justice Minister Peter MacKay told reporters.

RCMP will update reporters about the investigation at 1 p.m. AT.

Nova Scotia RCMP Commanding Officer Brian Brennan says a 19-year-old man and a 23-year-old American woman from Geneva, Ill., had planned to go to a public venue in the Halifax region today « with a goal of opening fire to kill citizens, and then themselves. »

Police tracked the 19-year-old down to Tiger Maple Drive in Timberlea, N.S., about 20 minutes outside of Halifax. Police entered the house and found the suspect dead early Friday.

‘It would have marked our city and province forever.’– Justice Minister Peter MacKay

The female suspect was arrested at the Halifax Stanfield International Airport upon arriving in Canada. A 20-year-old man who was there to meet her was also arrested.

Later that morning, police arrested a 17-year-old in Cole Harbour.

No charges have been laid.

« All suspects are either dead or in custody, » MacKay said.

The Nova Scotia MP said police are going over their investigation and will have more details later today. 

Brennan said a tip helped them foil the mass shooting, but wouldn’t provide more information about where the information came from.

« We have averted a true tragedy here in Halifax, » MacKay said. « It would have marked our city and province forever. »

NS ATTACK PLOT

Mayor Mike Savage said Halifax police, RCMP, the Geneva Police Department in Illinois, Canada Border Services and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security were all involved in the operation.

Savage said people may see increased security at events today, comparing it to the heightened security on Remembrance Day after the after the deaths of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo and Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent.

« Fortunately today, we’re talking something that could have been, not something that was, » Savage said.

Target not specified

Neither Brennan nor MacKay would characterize the alleged plot as terrorism. Brennan said the suspects « had some beliefs and were willing to carry out violent acts against citizens. »

He didn’t say what the beliefs were, other than that « they were not culturally based. »

It appears at least one of the suspects was part of an online blogging group and the suspects likely corresponded online, MacKay said.

When asked if the suspects had « Columbine » beliefs, referring to the 1999 shooting at Colorado’s Columbine High School, MacKay responded, « This appeared to be a group of murderous misfits … prepared to wreak havoc and mayhem on our community. »

Police notified one specific venue of the threat, but would not say what venue that was.

MacKay said there is extra security at the site today to ensure public safety.

CBC News asked the general manager of Micmac Mall in Dartmouth if his location was the intended target.

He said any questions would need to go to police

Privacy and police power

Savage says he’s been assured that all the suspects have been caught and the threat taken down.  

Valentine’s Day events are resuming as planned Saturday. Hockey Day in Canada organizers say they’ve been assured their event was not the target.

During his speech to reporters, MacKay said the « balance » of privacy rights and police power was on full display during this case.

« It’s crucial that attacks such as this one must be prevented from happening, whenever possible. The law enforcement community must be provided with the tools they need to protect Canadians… If you commit serious crimes or plot or plan to do so, you will be apprehended and locked up for a long time. »

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