James Smith Cree First Nation, Saskatchewan – Fears ran high Tuesday on an Indigenous reservation in Canada’s Saskatchewan province after police warned the suspect in a deadly weekend shooting spree could be nearby and officials dragged a home switched weapons.
Police later sent out an alert saying it was a false alarm and they had determined the suspect was not in the community, but people remained nervous as his whereabouts were unknown and a province-wide alert was still in effect.
People on the James Smith Cree First Nation reservation have previously been told to stay indoors. An Associated Press reporter saw people running and screaming as police blocked roads
The fugitive’s brother and fellow suspect, Damien Sanderson, was found dead near the stabbing sites Monday. Police are investigating whether Myles Sanderson killed his brother. The brothers are accused of killing 10 people and injuring 18.
Leaders of the James Smith Cree Nation, where most of the knife attacks took place, blamed the killings on drug and alcohol abuse that plagued the community, which they say is a legacy of Native American colonization.
Darryl Burns, a resident of James Smith Cree Nation, and his brother Ivor Wayne Burns said their sister Gloria Lydia Burns was a first responder who was killed while responding to a phone call. Burns said his 62-year-old sister was on a crisis response team.
“She called a house and became involved 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 the reservations.
“We had a murder-suicide here three years ago. My granddaughter and her boyfriend. Last year we had a double homicide. Now we have 10 more that have died this year, all from drugs and alcohol,” said Darryl Burns.
Ivor Wayne Burns also blamed drugs for his sister’s death and said the suspected brothers shouldn’t be hated.
“We have to forgive them, boys,” he said. “When you’re on hard drugs, when you’re on coke, and when you’re on heroin and crystal meth and all those things, you’re unable to feel. You stab someone and think it’s funny. You stab her again and laugh.”
Blackmore said police are still investigating the motive, but the head of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations has repeated suggestions that the stabbings could be drug-related.
“This is the destruction we face when harmful illegal drugs enter our communities and we urge 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.
He was released from prison in August 2021, but his release was suspended in November for lying about his ex-spouse and the children living with him. At a February hearing, the board lifted the suspension and added conditions to limit and monitor contact with the woman and his children.
Public Safety Secretary Mendicino said he had been told by the parole board that there would be an investigation into his assessment of Myles Sanderson and his subsequent release.
“I want to know the reasons for the decision and I want to know if there were any mistakes made during the process,” Mendicino said. “It has to be an independent review.”
“I’m very concerned about what happened here,” he said.
The stabbing was among the deadliest mass murders in Canada, where such crimes are less common than in the United States. The deadliest shooting spree in Canadian history occurred in 2020 when a man dressed as a police officer shot people in their homes and set fires across the province of Nova Scotia, killing 22 people. In 2019, a man driving a van killed ten pedestrians in Toronto.
Fatal stabbings are less common than mass shootings but have happened around the world. In 2014, 29 people were slashed and stabbed to death at a train station in the southwest Chinese city of Kunming. In 2016, a mass attack on a facility for the mentally disabled in Sagamihara, Japan, killed 19 people. A year later, three men killed eight people in a vehicle and knife attack at London Bridge.
Saskatchewan police received their first call about a stabbing at 5:40 a.m. Sunday, and within minutes they heard from several more. In total, dead or wounded people were found at 13 different locations on the sparsely populated reservation and town, Blackmore said. James Smith Cree Nation is approximately 30 kilometers (20 miles) from Weldon.
Weldon residents have identified one of the dead as Wes Petterson, a retired widower who made his morning coffee at the seniors’ center. He loved gardening, picking berries, canning and making jam and cakes, remembered William Works (47) and his mother Sharon Works (64).
“He’d give you the shirt off his back if he could,” said William Works, describing his neighbor as a “gentle old fellow” and “community first.”
Sharon Works was stunned: “I don’t see why they would even target someone like him because he was just a poor, helpless little man, 100 pounds soaking wet. And he could hardly breathe because he had asthma and emphysema, and everyone took care of him because he was like that. He took care of everyone else. And they took care of him.”
Evan Bray, the police chief for the provincial capital Regina, only said Monday that police thought Sanderson was in Regina, but said they received information Tuesday that leads them to believe he may no longer be in Regina City.
“Although we do not know his whereabouts, we are looking not only in the city of Regina, but also in the province,” Bray said.
https://nypost.com/2022/09/07/canada-mass-stabbing-suspect-myles-sanderson-still-at-large/ Canadian mass knife suspect Myles Sanderson is still at large