Canadian who could have been killed by Geneva woman interviews her
Jordan Bonaparte of Canada and Lindsay Souvannarath of Geneva were almost in the same place at the same time Feb. 14, 2015 -- the Halifax Shopping Centre in Nova Scotia.
Bonaparte would have been there pushing his 1-year-old son in a stroller, as he often did on winter days.
Souvannarath would have been there to kill people.
Canadian authorities fortunately thwarted the mass shooting planned by Souvannarath and two men she met online -- an event in the news again this week, as she appealed her life sentence -- but the case haunted Bonaparte.
"I felt like it was an attack against me," he said.
So much so that, after writing to the Geneva woman in prison, Bonaparte hosted her on his podcast, "Night Time." The show focuses on Canadian crimes and mysterious phenomena.
He interviewed Souvannarath by phone in February, recording the nearly five hours of the conversation that serve as the foundation of six episodes focusing on her and the plot to wreak havoc at the Canadian mall.
"I just really wanted to have her tell her story," Bonaparte said. "What leads an above-intelligent woman to take this path in life?"
Reaction has been mixed, Bonaparte said. Some say they appreciated hearing her; others say he shouldn't have given her a platform to talk about her views.
What we learned
Souvannarath is still a "Columbiner" -- someone fascinated by the Columbine High School killings that took place 20 years ago this Saturday -- and a National Socialist. When asked what she thought of victims of mass murderers, she said, "I really don't feel empathy for them."
She denies playing a Nazi character in role-playing games in high school but says she always identified as white, although her father is Asian. She thought Canadian customs agents' questions were dumb.
Souvannarath may hope the three-judge panel deciding her appeal didn't catch the podcast.
The appellate justices are weighing questions such as "Is conspiring to commit murder the moral equivalent of terrorism, if the defendant was planning to murder many people?" and "What if the plan was not well-thought-out?" as it mulls overturning her life sentence for conspiracy to commit murder.
Souvannarath, now 27, flew to Halifax Feb. 13, 2015, to meet with two co-conspirators. She had met the duo online and bonded with one in particular over their admiration for the Columbine killers. They planned to take Molotov cocktails and shotguns to the mall and shoot people in the food court before killing themselves.
But somebody tipped off Canadian authorities, who arrested Souvannarath when she arrived at the airport. One of her co-conspirators killed himself that night. The other was arrested, cooperated with police and was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Her appellate attorney, Peter Planetta, argued the trial judge erred by comparing her actions to terrorism, which carries longer sentences. He also argued Souvannarath did not have to prove she was remorseful and noted how "amateur" her plan was.
Crown Prosecutor Tim O'Leary argued her lack of remorse speaks to her character and to whether she can be rehabilitated. (Souvannarath is eligible for parole in 2025.)
"It does not take much of a complex plan or complex entrenched ideology to change a community," O'Leary said. "Do not compare amateurishness with a lack of danger."
Souvannarath did not attend the hearing. You can watch a video of it at courts.ns.ca/Webcasts/webcasts_archive_trials.htm.
As our colleague Steve Zalusky told us this week, Buffalo Grove may have the most aptly named officer of the year winner in suburban history.
Officer Jonathan Officer received the recognition this week from Rotary Club of Buffalo Grove.
"I love saying this sentence. I couldn't be more proud to present the Officer of the Year Award to Officer Officer," Chief Steve Casstevens quipped during the award ceremony hosted by the Buffalo Grove village board.
Officer earned the distinction through his efforts as a patrol officer, a field training officer, a department instructor and a member of the Northern Illinois Police Alarm System -- Mobile Field Force. He led the department in overall arrests with 94, including a number for felony drug and DUI offenses, as well as firearms offenses.
"Jonathan is an outstanding police officer who is very respected by his supervisors and his peers," Casstevens said. "He is incredibly hardworking and dedicated to the department, the village, and the profession."
Before Officer was an officer in Buffalo Grove, he was a sergeant with the police force at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
He credited his fellow officers, co-workers, supervisors, command staff and Buffalo Grove's residents for his success.
"Law enforcement truly is a team effort, and I'm proud to be a member of Buffalo Grove Police Department and the greater community," he said.
Sunday's mid-April snowstorm didn't stop Prospect Heights Sgt. Mike Stone and officer Keith O'Connor from doing a good deed. The pair bought and installed a new mailbox for an elderly resident whose box was destroyed by a passing vehicle.
- Courtesy of Prospect Heights Police Department
Mid-April snowstorms aren't the norm, and the one we saw Sunday created enough havoc on the roads to keep police officers across the suburbs busy.
But the spring blizzard wasn't enough to derail a pair of local officers out to do good.
After an elderly resident's mailbox was destroyed recently by a passing car, Prospect Heights police Sgt. Mike Stone and officer Keith O'Connor didn't just take a report and offer condolences -- they also bought her a new one and made plans to install it.
And so it was that they were spotted out in Sunday's snow globe conditions putting the new mailbox in place.
Nice work, guys.
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