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Wednesday, September 20, 2023

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One Canada mass stabbing suspect found dead, other could be injured


One of the suspects in the stabbing deaths of 10 people in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan has been found dead, and his injuries are not self inflicted, police said today as they continued the search for a second suspect.

Regina Police Chief Evan Bray said Damien Sanderson, 31, was found dead near the stabbing sites and they believe his brother, Myles Sanderson, 30, is injured, on the run and likely in the provincial capital of Regina.

It was the first time police have identified the two as brothers.

Police said the first stabbing report came at 5:40am local time and within minutes they received multiple calls reporting additional stabbings. (AP)

“His body was located outdoors in a heavily grassed and in proximity to a house that was being examined,” Assistant Commissioner Rhonda Blackmore said.

“We can confirm he has visible injuries.

“These injuries are not believed to be self-inflicted.”

At 170cm and 70kgs, Damien Sanderson is the smaller of the two brothers.

Myles Sanderson is described by police as standing 185cm with a weight of 108kgs.

Authorities have said some victims were targeted and others appeared to have been chosen at random on the James Smith Cree Nation and in the town of Weldon in Saskatchewan.

Police have so far not revealed if they know of a motive behind the attacks.

But the chief of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations suggested the stabbings could be drug-related.

Other statements by family members of victims stabbed to death also indicate possible drug and alcohol abuse.

“This is the destruction we face when harmful illegal drugs invade our communities, and we demand all authorities to take direction from the chiefs and councils and their membership to create safer and healthier communities for our people,” Chief Bobby Cameron said.

A home where a stabbing occurred in Weldon, Saskatchewan.
A home where a stabbing occurred in Weldon, Saskatchewan. (AP)
Assistant Commissioner Rhonda Blackmore speaks next to images of Damien Sanderson and Myles Sanderson during a press conference
Canadian authorities are searching for two men in connection with a mass stabbing that left at least 10 dead and 15 injured across multiple crime scenes in Saskatchewan in western Canada. (AP)
Police officers stand at a crime scene in Weldon, Saskatchewan
The stabbings took place in multiple locations on the James Smith Cree Nation and in the village of Weldon, northeast of Saskatoon (Heywood Yu / The Canadian Press via AP)

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 responding to a call.

Burns said his 62-year-old sister was on a crisis response team.

“She went on a call to a house and she got caught up in the violence,” he said. “She was there to help. She was a hero.”

He blamed drugs and pointed to the colonisation of Indigenous people for the rampant drug and alcohol use on reserves.

“We had a murder suicide here three years ago. My granddaughter and her boyfriend. Last year we had a double homicide. Now this year we have 10 more that have passed away and all because of drugs and alcohol,” Darryl Burns said.

Ivor Wayne Burns also blamed drugs for his sister’s death and said the suspect brothers should not be hated.

“We have to forgive them boys,” he said.

“When you are doing hard drugs, when you are doing coke, and when you are doing heroin and crystal meth and those things, you are incapable of feeling. You stab somebody and you think it’s funny. You stab them again and you laugh.”

Earlier in the day Regina Police Chief Evan Bray said they got a credible tip the wanted men were in Regina.

He told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation that, following a “very aggressive investigation”, police believed they were still in the city.

The discovery of the body came on the second day of a massive manhunt for the pair, who are suspected of carrying out a series of stabbings in an Indigenous community and a nearby town, which also left 18 people injured.

It was one of the deadliest attacks in the nation’s history.

Authorities have said some of the victims were targeted and others appeared to have been chosen at random on the James Smith Cree Nation and in the town of Weldon in Saskatchewan.

Among the 10 killed was Lana Head, who is the former partner of Michael Brett Burns and the mother of their two daughters.

“It’s sick how jail time, drugs and alcohol can destroy many lives,” Burns told the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network.

“I’m hurt for all this loss.”

Burns later posted on Facebook that there were dead and wounded people everywhere on the reserve, making it look like “a war zone”.

“The look in their eyes couldn’t express the pain and suffering for all those who were assaulted,” he posted.

As the Labour Day holiday weekend drew to a close, police had urged Saskatchewan residents returning from trips away to look for suspicious activity around their homes before entering.

More charges are expected.

Police have given few details about the men.

Investigators examine the ground at the scene of a stabbing in Weldon, Saskatchewan
A series of stabbings at an Indigenous community and at another town nearby in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan left 10 people dead and 15 wounded (Heywood Yu / The Canadian Press via AP)
A police officer in protective gear works at the scene of a stabbing in Weldon, Saskatchewan
A police officer in protective gear works at the scene of a stabbing in Weldon, Saskatchewan (Heywood Yu / The Canadian Press via AP)

Last May, Saskatchewan Crime Stoppers issued a wanted list that included Myles Sanderson, writing that he was “unlawfully at large.”

With one suspect still at large, fear gripped communities in the rural, working class area of Saskatchewan surrounded by farmland that were terrorised by the crimes.

One witness who said he lost family members described seeing people with bloody wounds scattered throughout the Indigenous reserve.

“No one in this town is ever going to sleep again. They’re going to be terrified to open their door,” said Ruby Works, who also lost someone close to her and is a resident of Weldon, which has a population of about 200 and is home to many retirees.

Deadly mass stabbings are rarer than mass shootings, but have happened around the world.

In 2014, 29 people were slashed and stabbed to death at a train station in China’s southwestern city of Kunming.

In 2016, a mass stabbing at a facility for the mentally disabled in Sagamihara, Japan, left 19 people dead.

A year later, three men killed eight people in a vehicle and stabbing attack at London Bridge.

Canadian police got their first call about a stabbing at 5:40am on Sunday, and within minutes heard about several more.

In all, dead or wounded people were found at 13 different locations on the sparsely populated reserve and in the town.

James Smith Cree Nation is about 30 kilometres from Weldon.

She went out for a tin of yeast, and ended up making history

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