Suspects of planned shooting spree not seen as terrorists
On Feb. 14, hundreds of innocent lives were saved when an anonymous tipper spoiled a mass shooting plot. According to The Los Angeles Times, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Nova Scotia received a tip on Feb 12. that a group of individuals were planning to “open fire in a public venue in the Halifax region of Nova Scotia.”
The four individuals who were going to be involved with the attack included 20-year-old Randall Steven Shepard, 23-year-old Lindsay Kantha Souvannarath, a 19-year-old male and a 17-year-old male. Their plan was discovered by officials who told the Associated Press that “the alleged plotters were on a chat stream and obsessed with killing and death.”
After officials discovered the plans for a mass shooting, Souvannarath and Shepard were arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit murder, according to USA Today.
“Based on what we know so far, it would have been devastating, mass casualties would have been a real possibility,” said Justice Minister Peter MacKay, according to Reuters. “This appeared to be a group of murderous misfits that were coming here, or living here, and were planning to wreak havoc and mayhem on our community.”
The 19-year-old male suspect was discovered dead in his house in Halifax. The 17-year-old suspect was arrested and then released because officials believe he may not have been involved in this attack. But releasing this suspect may have been the sole mistake of the officials, as he had been wanted for threatening to shoot a school, said USA Today.
Despite this detail, it’s good to see that there are still law enforcement officials who take their jobs as the protectors of citizens seriously; officials acted quickly and efficiently, thus eliminating this eminent threat.
This is especially important in a society wrought with violence and police brutality — as seen in the well-known case of Michael Brown. It is also important to take into consideration the dangerous nature of these suspects, and the fact that they discussed death and killing on online chats shows that they were unhinged.
However, this victory is marred by a blaring reality. This attack was quickly dismissed as being just an attack and not a terrorist act.
“The attack does not appear to have been culturally motivated, therefore not linked to terrorism,” MacKay said.
This is something that is a common misconception in our society; it is not necessary for terrorist acts to be linked to culture. This belief stems off the Islamophobia which is currently sweeping our nation. Had the suspects been of the Islamic religion, the plot would most likely have been seen as terrorist.
According to a 2013 article by usnews.com, of the more than 300 American deaths from mass shootings and political violence since 9/11, only 33 deaths have happened at the hands of Muslim-Americans.
The cultural aspect of the suspects should not be the deciding factor on whether an act is murderous or terrorism. It’s not a far jump to make to presume that this plan of mass shooting would have been considered terrorism had the suspects been Muslim-Americans.
Looking at the more immediate and smaller picture, it is great that this plan was caught just in time and hundreds of lives were saved. It is a refreshing change of pace to hear this after a string of acts that claimed thousands of lives just in the past few months.
Opinion columnist Trishna Buch is a print journalism senior and may be reached at [email protected]