Untold story: Parents of suspected mass shooting plotter warn of Internet’s harm
The parents of a man who police say was involved in an alleged mass shooting plot of the Halifax Shopping Centre are speaking out, and begging for answers.
James Gamble, 19, was found dead in his Timberlea, N.S. home nearly eight months ago. His mother, Patti Cody, says she’s still in disbelief.
“We want help from someone,” said Cody. “Someone that can help guide us through this process, just to help find us the answers.”
Police were in the midst of a complex investigation that crossed borders, and they say ultimately put an end to a plan to commit mass murder.
But on that winter night, Patti Cody was simply running errands when she was stopped by police.
“(Police) said, 'We're investigating an online threat regarding your son,'” said Cody. “And I said, 'An online threat?" I said, you mean, 'Someone's threatening my son?' He said, 'No, it's an online threat that your son has made.'”
As undercover officers blanketed the subdivision where the family lives, both parents waited at the police station.
Gamble’s father says he and his son were the best of friends. He still finds it too difficult to talk about.
“John was saying he wanted to go home,” said Cody. “'Just let me go home. I'll talk to him. I'll talk him out. Let me call him. Let me go home.' And they wouldn't let us.”
Eventually, a gunshot was heard inside the home.
“We were saying, 'Why isn't anyone going in? Why aren't they checking on him? ‘Cause they hadn't heard from him. 'Cause we were trying to say, 'You know, if he did shoot himself, this would be a window of opportunity if he was still alive.' No, that's not how we do things,” said Cody.
And so, the wait continued.
“It was four hours later that we found out that they had entered the house and found him deceased. Four hours.”
Gamble's parents say they are left with many questions about what happened that night. They say they've asked officers multiple questions without satisfaction.
“We don't want major answers that are going to jeopardize the case,” said Cody. “A lot of them are personal answers that would help us with our healing.”
RCMP spokesperson Cst. Mark Skinner says the police have assigned a liason officer to the family.
"At the point in time when investigators were dealing with James, it was a very fluid situation, and you know, we had an alleged plot where it was suspected that there was suspected hundreds of Nova Scotians could be killed in relation to a mass murder or a shooting, so given that situation we had concern for the safety of both James, his parents, and anyone involved in the general area," said Skinner.
Gamble’s childhood friend Randy Shepherd and Lindsay Souvannarath from Illinois have been charged with conspiracy to commit murder.
Police believe the three were plotting to kill as many people as possible in the Halifax Shopping Centre on Valentine’s Day.
“He knew we were coming home. We couldn't get home to him. Did he think we abandoned him? Was he waiting for us?” said Cody.
They say they’ve never heard of Souvannarath. Police say Gamble met her online. Cody is warning parents of the dangers involved with lurking on the Internet.
“I hope no one ever has to go through what we're going through, but realize what's out there, and how easy it is for kids,” she said.
The parents say their son was bullied all his life. They say he suffered from anxiety, and they believe he sought acceptance online.
“I know there's people out there, I know they portray him as a monster, and they can't get past that, and you know I'm not saying I blame people. I'm just telling my experience that until you walk in someone's shoes you can't judge them,” said Cody.
They’re remembering their son as funny, shy, and a lover of movies, music and action figures.
They say only answers to their many questions will help ease their pain.
“We miss him, we miss him.”
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Kayla Hounsell.