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A “cheerleader” who foiled a planned mass shooting at the Halifax Shopping Center for Valentine’s Day 2015 has been released from prison with an order to stay off the internet and live halfway.
Randall Steven Thomas Shepherd pleaded guilty in October 2017 to conspiracy to commit murder. The judge sentenced him to 10 years in prison, but that was reduced to seven years and four months because of the time Shepherd had already served.
He is eligible for statutory parole in the fall of 2021 — a law that requires federal offenders who have served two-thirds of a fixed-length sentence to be released from prison under supervision. Shepherd’s sentence does not officially end until the spring of 2024.
“Conspired to commit mass murder”
“You and two associates you met online conspired to commit mass murder in a busy shopping center on Valentine’s Day,” the parole board said in the ruling, which ordered Shepherd’s release before his release from prison.
“You intended to kill yourself after the shooting.”
After an anonymous tip, police identified James Gamble as one of Shepherd’s associates and went to his home to speak with him, the parole board said. “When asked to leave the residence, this individual took his own life.”
Police later identified Lindsay Kantha Souvannarath, of Geneva, Illinois, as the third person involved in the plot to use a rifle and Molotov cocktails on shoppers in the mall’s food court. He was arrested at Halifax Stanfield International Airport after flying to Canada.
“(Shepherd) went to the airport to pick up this person and was arrested that same day,” the parole board said.
For added “shock value,” choose Valentine’s Day
He said they were “planning a mass murder, advised you to choose Valentine’s Day for extra ‘shock value’ and want to be remembered and make history.”
Shepherd had no criminal history and was “raised in a home free of abuse or neglect,” he said.
“The hostages say they caught you watching violent pornography as a teenager and tried to limit your internet use after that. Your behavior escalated, you became disrespectful, and you moved away after high school. During the intake assessment, you said that you felt like the black sheep of the family and that you would not be missed if you left, and that you wanted to die because you felt rejected by society.
Shepherd reported being “bullied at school” and had a history of using alcohol and marijuana, but the Correctional Service of Canada said there was no indication he was struggling with a substance abuse problem.
I didn’t know he had autism
“The file information indicates that you are on the autism spectrum; It’s something you don’t know before you’re incarcerated,” the parole board said.
Before pleading guilty, Shepherd spent most of his time in detention and in a mental health unit.
After the sentencing, Shepherd was “voluntarily transferred to the health center for evaluation and treatment in April 2017.”
He was transferred back to a regular prison in 2020 and has been taking his medication regularly, the parole board said.
Shepherd “did not meet the criteria for correctional programs” while behind bars, the parole board said.
“For a while, most work assignments and programs were canceled due to COVID 19. But while they continued, you started going to school part-time, joining a book club, and going to the gym.”
Shepherd’s jailers planned to refer him to a community mental health team when he was released.
‘There’s some work to be done’
“You have no contact with your family, but you trust them to provide you with a place to live,” the parole board said. “The information in the file indicates that you have some work to do to mend these relationships.”
Shepherd, who grew up in Halifax, “probably expressed anxiety about returning home,” but did not provide the Correctional Service of Canada with an “alternative release location,” the parole board said.
“Local police strongly recommend that residency and internet restrictions be enforced,” the parole board said.
The unstoppable shooting he helped plan “had the potential to see the loss of many innocent lives in a reckless manner. “Your current crime was well planned and you knew the date, time and place of the planned murder with your accomplices.”
Shepherd “may be influenced by others who share values rooted in anger and violence,” the parole board said, adding that “unless you have a prior history of violence, the board notes other factors that would reasonably predict engaging in violence. You were known for viewing violent pornography and You admired highly publicized school shootings and mass murders. You blogged on social media glorifying such events.”
The parole board concluded that Shepherd had a “propensity for violence.”
He ordered her to live in an unfinished house.
“The board imposes a residency condition because it is convinced that you would pose an unlawful risk to the community by committing before the expiry of a condition requiring you to live in a community-based residential facility or psychiatric facility. your punishment is a crime.”
The parole board denied furlough privileges for Shepherd.
“Effectively monitoring your risk requires returning to the accommodation every night.”
The parole board ordered him to stay away from other criminals.
“Glorify violent acts”
“You contacted other people who were going to participate in the mass shooting. If you continue to associate with others who support and glorify acts of violence, you will increase your risk of reoffending.”
The parole board also ordered Shepherd to follow a mental health treatment plan arranged by a parole officer.
“If these issues are not addressed properly, you have serious mental health issues that can contribute to your cycle of crime,” the parole board said. “If you do not follow professional guidance, including recommended pharmacotherapy, you will be at increased risk of re-offending.”
He ordered Shepherd to stay off the Internet.
“Any access can be dangerous”
“The council believes that the internet provides a forum to connect with others who admire violence. In addition, the board believes that these relationships may play an important role in enabling you to plan and carry out acts of violence. The Board believes that any access can be dangerous and increase your risk of re-offending.”
Shepherd must immediately report all sexual and non-sexual relationships and friendships with women and men and any changes in their status to his parole officer.
“The council considers that it is necessary for you (the case management team) to be aware of your relationships/friendships in order to properly supervise you in the community.”