RCMP say suspect in Saskatchewan stabbing rampage found dead, brother still at large
September 6, 2022 By The Canadian Press
Sept. 5, 2022, Weldon, Sask. – One of two brothers sought after a stabbing rampage in Saskatchewan was found dead Monday in a grassy field not far from where 10 others lost their lives and many more were injured on the weekend.
Meanwhile, police said the other brother, who has a violent criminal record and is considered dangerous, remained on the loose, but he may be injured.
Police said the body of Damien Sanderson, 31, was found Monday morning on the James Smith Cree Nation.
Police had been looking for him and his brother Myles Sanderson, 30, since the attacks early Sunday at 13 locations in and around the First Nation and the nearby village of Weldon, northeast of Saskatoon.
Police believe some of the victims were targeted and others were chosen at random. No motive for the attacks has been given.
Rhonda Blackmore, the assistant RCMP commissioner in charge of Saskatchewan, told reporters Damien Sanderson’s body was found in an area not far from one of the crime scenes.
“He has visible injuries. His injuries are not believed to be self-inflicted,” she said.
A Parole Board of Canada decision earlier this year details Myles Sanderson’s long criminal history.
“Your criminal offending commenced at a young age and has continued with no significant breaks for almost two decades,” it said, listing off 59 offences that include several violent crimes.
His most recent sentence of four years, four months and 19 days was for assault – intentional use of force, three counts of assault with a weapon, assaulting a police officer, uttering threats to cause death/harm, uttering threats to destroy property, mischief and robbery.
The board cancelled a suspension of Sanderson’s statutory release in February, with a reprimand over a failure to openly communicate with his parole officer.
He was also given a new condition not to contact his common law spouse or his children, “except for what is necessary for parenting responsibilities and for counselling or programming related to domestic violence or parenting and with prior permission from your parole supervisor.”
A Crime Stoppers bulletin was issued for Myles Sanderson in May, warning he was unlawfully at large.
On Monday, he was charged with multiple counts of first-degree murder, attempted murder and break and enter in the stabbings.
“Even if he is injured, it doesn’t mean he is not still dangerous,” Blackmore said.
Blackmore said the police can’t say definitively whether Myles Sanderson was responsible for his brother’s death.
Since Sunday morning, police have been scouring Regina, a three-hour drive south, after a report the two suspects had been seen in a black Nissan Rogue.
Regina Police Chief Evan Bray said the hunt continues in the Saskatchewan capital, even with the one brother found dead.
“(The information) is a day old – we acknowledge that. But we have nothing that can tell us differently,” said Bray.
RCMP said 18 men and women were injured in the attacks, not including Myles Sanderson. None were children.
The Saskatchewan Health Authority said 17 went to various hospitals. Four were in critical condition Monday afternoon, nine were in stable condition and four had been released.
Several media reports identified one of the dead as Lana Head, a 49 year-old mother of two daughters who worked as a security guard at a casino in nearby Prince Albert.
Media reports also identified Gloria Burns as a victim who died. Family said Burns was a first responder on the reserve who went to a crisis call.
Eleanore Sunchild, a prominent Saskatchewan lawyer whose daughters have connections to the reserve, said she’s been talking with community members who are shocked, horrified and deep in grief. She said there is a feeling of helplessness.
Many victims were older people who held knowledge of history and tradition and Sunchild said when an elder dies, “a library dies.”
She has worked with thousands of residential school survivors and saw the trauma the institutions created through physical and sexual abuse. She said there needs to be counsellors and mental health supports immediately provided to communities.
Sunchild added that people are also worried about a backlash against Indigenous people. But, she said, what the tragedy should show is that communities need help and long-term investment in healing.
Sunchild said her heart breaks thinking of the community trying to plan 10 funerals.
The streets in Weldon were all but deserted Monday, with doors closed and curtains drawn, as police patrolled the area. Many residents declined media interviews.
Ruby Works stopped to place flowers outside the home of one victim identified by several residents as 77-year-old Wes Petterson.
Police have not said why they believe the remaining fugitive is injured. But Doreen Lees, an 89-year-old resident from Weldon, said she and her daughter thought they saw one of the suspects when a car came barrelling down her street early Sunday.
Lees said a man approached them and said he was hurt and needed help, but he took off when her daughter said she would call for help.
“He had a big jacket over his face. We asked his name and he kind of mumbled his name twice and we still couldn’t get it,” she said. “He said his face was injured so bad he couldn’t show it.”
The stabbings have made headlines around the world and words of support have poured in from every quarter.
Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe, in a video posted to social media, said the province has augmented police with extra security, including protections at hospitals where some victims were being treated.
“There are no words to adequately describe the pain and loss suffered by the victims’ families – this loss caused by these evil, vicious, senseless attacks.”
His office has said flags at provincial government buildings will be lowered to half-mast one day for each person killed.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said flags will also be lowered at federal government buildings in Saskatchewan and at the Peace Tower in Ottawa.
“Saskatchewanians and Canadians will do what we always do in times of difficulty and anguish: we’ll be there for each other.”
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