WELDON, Sask. – Canadian police have been searching for the remaining suspect in the stabbing death of 10 people in an Indigenous community and nearby town in the province of Saskatchewan after finding his brother’s body amid a manhunt massive for the couple.
Damien Sanderson, 31, was found dead near the stabbing sites on Monday and authorities believe his brother and co-suspect, Myles Sanderson, 30, is injured, on the run and likely in the provincial capital of Regina, Police Chief Evan Bray said. The series of stabbings also injured 18 people.
Assistant Commissioner to RCMP Commander Rhonda Blackmore said authorities were not yet sure of the cause of death, but the injuries were not self-inflicted.
“Damien Sanderson’s body was found outside in a heavily grassed area near a house that was being examined. We can confirm he has visible injuries,” Blackmore said. When asked if Myles Sanderson was responsible for his brother’s death, Blackmore said police are investigating the possibility, but “we can’t say definitively at this time.”
Leaders of the James Smith Cree Nation, where most of the stabbings took place, blamed the killings on drug and alcohol abuse rampant in the community, which they say was a legacy of the colonization of indigenous peoples.
James Smith Cree Nation resident Darryl Burns and his brother, Ivor Wayne Burns, said their sister, Gloria Lydia Burns, was a first responder who was killed while trying to answer a call. Burns said her 62-year-old sister was on a crisis response team.
“She phoned a house and she got caught up in the violence,” he said. “She was there to help. She was a heroine. »
He blamed drugs and pointed to colonization for rampant drug and alcohol use on reservations.
“We had a murder-suicide here three years ago. My granddaughter and her boyfriend. Last year we had a double homicide. This year we have 10 more who have died and all of them due to drugs and alcohol,” said Darryl Burns.
Ivor Wayne Burns also blamed drugs for his sister’s death and said the suspect brothers are not to be hated.
“We have to forgive them boys,” he said. “When you take hard drugs, when you take coke, and when you take heroin and crystal meth and those things, you’re unable to feel. You stab someone and you think it’s funny You stab them again and you laugh.
Blackmore said police are still determining the motive, but the leader of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations echoes suggestions that the stabbings could be drug-related.
“This is the destruction we face when harmful illegal drugs invade our communities, and we call on all authorities to follow the direction of Chiefs and Councils and their members to create safer and healthier communities for our people,” said Chief Bobby Cameron.
Blackmore said Myles Sanderson’s criminal record goes back years and includes violence. . Last May, Saskatchewan Crime Stoppers released a wanted list in which he wrote that he was “unlawfully at large.”
While authorities believe Myles Sanderson is in Regina, about 335 kilometers (210 miles) south of where the stabbings took place, they have issued alerts across Canada’s three vast prairie provinces – which also include Manitoba and Alberta – and contacted US border officials. The manhunt entered its third day on Tuesday.
Before Damien’s body was found, warrants were issued for the suspects and both men faced at least one count of murder and attempted murder.
The stabbing was one of the deadliest massacres in Canada, where such crimes are less common than in the United States. The deadliest gun rampage in Canadian history occurred in 2020, when a man disguised as a police officer shot people in their homes and set fires across New Brunswick province. -Scotland, killing 22 people. In 2019, a man used a van to kill 10 pedestrians in Toronto.
Lethal mass stabbings are rarer than mass shootings, but have occurred around the world. In 2014, 29 people were slashed and stabbed to death at a train station in the city of Kunming in southwest China. In 2016, a massive knife attack at a facility for the mentally disabled in Sagamihara, Japan, left 19 people dead. A year later, three men kill eight people in a vehicle and attack with a knife at London Bridge.
Saskatchewan police received their first call about a stabbing at 5:40 a.m. Sunday and, within minutes, heard of several more. In total, dead or injured people were found at 13 different locations on the sparsely populated reservation and in the city, Blackmore said. The James Smith Cree Nation is approximately 30 kilometers (20 miles) from Weldon.
Among the 10 killed was Lana Head, who is the former girlfriend of Michael Brett Burns and the mother of their two daughters.
“It’s crazy how prison, drugs and alcohol can destroy many lives,” Burns told the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network. “I’m hurt for all this loss.”
Weldon residents identified one of the dead as Wes Petterson, a retired widower who made coffee every morning at the senior citizens’ centre. He enjoyed gardening, picking berries, canning and making jam and cakes, recall William Works, 47, and his mother, Sharon Works, 64.
“He would give you the shirt off his back if he could,” said William Works, describing his neighbor as a “nice old man” and “community first.”
Sharon Works was baffled: “I don’t understand why they would target someone like him anyway, because he was just a poor helpless little man, 100 pounds drenched. And he could barely breathe because he had asthma and emphysema and everyone cared about him because he was like that. He cared about everyone. And they cared about him.
Gillies reported from Toronto.
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