Canada stabbings: Saskatchewan attacks explained - map, how many people died, who are the suspects?

A series of stabbings on Sunday (4 September) in 13 locations is one of the deadliest acts of mass violence Canada has seen.

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The final suspect in the stabbing rampage in and around a Canadian reserve is dead from self-inflicted injuries, an official has said.

Myles Sanderson, 32, was found near the town of Rosthern as officers responded to a report of a stolen vehicle being driven by a man armed with a knife, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) said.

Officers forced Sanderson’s vehicle off the road and into a ditch, assistant commissioner Rhonda Blackmore, commander of the RCMP in Saskatchewan, said at a news conference.

He was detained and a knife was found inside the vehicle, she said.

She said Mr Sanderson went into medical distress after he was arrested.

She said CPR was attempted on him before an ambulance arrived, and emergency medical personnel then took him to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Regina police chief Evan Bray said Damien Sanderson, 31, had been found dead earlier this week.

The men are suspected of killing 10 people on Sunday (4 September) in a series of stabbings in an indigenous community and a nearby town.

A huge manhunt for the perpetrators of one of the deadliest attacks in the nation’s history had stretched into a second day.

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 province.

They have given no motive for the crimes, which also left 18 people injured, but a senior indigenous leader suggested drugs were somehow involved.

Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau said it was "heartbreaking".

What happened?

The first emergency call was made to police at 5.40 local time on Sunday morning in the provincial capital Regina - about 280km (173 miles) south of Weldon.

This was quickly followed by more calls for help and the police described it as a "rapidly unfolding event". It is thought the attackers were going door to door to carry out the crimes.

As news of the stabbings broke, a dangerous person alert was sent to all mobile phones across the provinces of Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Alberta.

A state of emergency was declared in the James Smith Cree Nation - a indigenous community of about 2,000 residents north-east of the village of Weldon, which is home to just 200 people.

Saskatchewan Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) warned people across the search area. They said: "Do not leave a secure location. Use caution allowing others into your residence.”

As the Labour Day holiday weekend drew to a close on Monday (5 September), police had urged Saskatchewan residents who were returning from trips away to look for suspicious activity around their homes before entering.

Main Street in Weldon, Saskatchewan, where some of the stabbings happened. Creidt: GoogleMain Street in Weldon, Saskatchewan, where some of the stabbings happened. Creidt: Google
Main Street in Weldon, Saskatchewan, where some of the stabbings happened. Creidt: Google

Mr Trudeau said the flag above Canada’s parliament building in Ottawa would be flown at half-mast.

“Sadly, over these past years, tragedies like these have become all too common place.

“Saskatchewanians and Canadians will do what we always do in times of difficulty and anguish, we will be there for each other,” he said.

Who was killed in the stabbing rampage?

The Saskatchewan Coroner’s Service said nine of those killed were from the James Smith Cree Nation:

  • Thomas Burns, 23
  • Carol Burns, 46
  • Gregory Burns, 28
  • Lydia Gloria Burns, 61
  • Bonnie Burns, 48
  • Earl Burns, 66
  • Lana Head, 49
  • Christian Head, 54
  • Robert Sanderson, 49
  • One was from Weldon, 78-year-old Wesley Patterson

Authorities would not say how the victims might be related.

Who are the suspects?

Damien Sanderson, 31, and Myles Sanderson, 32 are reported to be brothers by PA.

On Monday (5 September) police said Damien’s body had been found “in a heavily grassed area in proximity to a house that was being examined”.

His injuries were “not believed to be self-inflicted at this point”, police Assistant Commissioner Rhonda Blackmore told reporters.

Police are investigating if Myles Sanderson killed his brother.

Myles Sanderson was described as having an "extensive and lengthy criminal record".

He was found near the town of Rosthern as officers responded to a report of a stolen vehicle being driven by a man armed with a knife.

Officers forced Sanderson’s vehicle off the road and into a ditch, he went into medical distress after being arrested and was pronounced dead at hospital.

“All life-saving measures that we are capable of were taken at that time,” said Ms Blackmore.

Ms Blackmore gave no details on the cause of death.

She added: “I can’t speak to the specific manner of death.”

But an official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, earlier said Mr Sanderson died of self-inflicted injuries, without giving any further details.

On Sunday the suspects were last seen by members of the public in Regina at about lunchtime. They were thought to be travelling in a black Nissan Rogue, officer Blackmore said.

The stabbing rampage had raised questions of why Myles Sanderson — an ex-con with 59 convictions and a long history of shocking violence — was out on the streets in the first place.

He was released by a parole board in February while serving a sentence of over four years on charges that included assault and robbery.

But he had been wanted by police since May, apparently for violating the terms of his release, though the details were not immediately clear.

His long crime sheet also showed that seven years ago, he attacked and stabbed one of the victims killed in the weekend rampage, according to court records.

Canadian public safety minister Marco Mendicino said there will be an investigation into the parole board’s assessment of Sanderson.

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

“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,” said chief Bobby Cameron.

Timeline of events

  • 5.40am - local time on 4 September (11:40 GMT). Police receive the first call about a stabbing in the James Smith Cree Nation. More calls start coming in within minutes
  • 7.12am - police tell the public to seek immediate shelter and issue a Dangerous Persons Alert
  • 7.57am - police reveal the names, descriptions and pictures of the two suspects
  • 8.20am - the Dangerous Persons Alert is extended to the whole Saskatchewan province
  • 11.25am - the search for the suspects is further widened to the neighbouring provinces of Manitoba and Alberta
  • 12.07pm - police alert the public that the suspect vehicle had been spotted in Regina, the provincial capital
  • Monday - police find the body of Damien Sanderson in the James Smith Cree Nation, with his brother Myles still at large
  • Wednesday - police find Myles Sanderson, he is arrested but was later pronounced dead after being taken to hospital