HALIFAX – The province’s Serious Incident Response Team (SiRT) has cleared Halifax Regional Police of any wrongdoing in connection to the death of a man linked to a mall shooting plot.
No charges will be laid against the officers and the report concludes there is nothing to suggest officers encouraged or assisted in the man’s suicide.
Police arrested Randall Shepperd and Lindsay Souvannarath on February 12 for allegedly planning a mass shooting. The pair was later charged with multiple offenses including conspiracy to commit murder and conspiracy to commit arson.
A 19-year-old Timberlea man, later identified as James Gamble, took his own life after police tried to arrest him on February 12. SiRT was then called to investigate police interaction with Gamble.
The report, released Friday, finds police kept surveillance on Gamble’s house but did not enter because they assumed he had access to weapons.
That evening, police stopped Gamble’s mother as she made her way home. She confirmed long guns were in the house.
“She indicated that had been diagnosed with social anxiety disorder a few years earlier, and that lately he had been acting differently and secretive,” the report reads.
Gamble’s mother offered to go home and bring Gamble to police but officers determined “the possible risks were too great”.
About an hour and a half later, police stopped Gamble’s father. He also offered to bring Gamble out of the house but police declined his offer.
Officers called Gamble on his cell phone around 9 p.m. The conversation was not recorded but Gamble was said to be cooperative. Officers asked the teen to come outside to speak with them.
“At one point said “Just a minute” and did not say anything to Officer 1 for several seconds. Officer 1 then asked if he was outside, to which said “Yes”,” the report reads.
“Moments later, at approximately 9:05 p.m., Officer 1 heard a loud bang on the phone and officers on scene heard a gunshot.”
The Emergency Response Team was called to the scene. Calls were placed to Gamble’s home phone and cell phone but the calls were not answered.
Police entered the house more than four hours later and found Gamble dead on the floor of his bedroom.
The report concludes that police were right to arrest Gamble for questioning about his involvement in the mass shooting plot.
“Their decision to keep mother or father from re-entering the home was reasonable. Based on what parents told them about likely cooperation, the decision to call to determine if he would surrender to police was also reasonable,” the report reads.
“That call went exactly as planned … until he made the decision to end his life.”
The report finds the goal of police during the ordeal was to get Gamble out of his home safely.
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