'Misfits' plotted Valentine's Day murders in Canada mall: minister

Sun Feb 15, 2015 12:38pm EST
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(This Feb 14 story adds police attribution in first paragraph)

TORONTO (Reuters) - A group of "murderous misfits" planned a massacre on Valentine's Day in Atlantic Canada's largest regional shopping mall but the alleged plot was foiled by police after an anonymous tipoff, the justice minister and police said on Saturday.

Police charged two people with conspiracy to commit murder and released a third suspect in the alleged plot to shoot as many people as possible in the Halifax Shopping Centre. A fourth man linked to the plot was found dead in a house in Halifax, police said.

"Based on what we know so far, it would have been devastating, mass casualties would have been a real possibility," Justice Minister Peter MacKay told reporters.

"The attack does not appear to have been culturally motivated, therefore not linked to terrorism," he said.

In a sign of heightened tensions, streets around the mall were closed on Saturday evening as police blocked the entrances after reports of an active shooter.

That incident was related to "kids with slingshots" and seven youths were in custody, police said.

MacKay said a 19-year-old Canadian man and a 23-year-old American woman, believed to have been in contact online, allegedly planned a shooting at a public venue.

Police said on Friday they obtained information that suggested the two had access to firearms and intended to kill people, and then themselves.   Continued...

Canada's Justice Minister Peter MacKay speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa February 4, 2015. REUTERS/Chris Wattie