WARNING: This story contains distressing details.
Saskatchewan RCMP have charged two people who are still being sought by police, and the injury toll has risen to 18, after 10 people were fatally stabbed Sunday in various locations in the province, including James Smith Cree Nation.
Police from Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba are searching for Myles Sanderson, 30, and Damien Sanderson, 31, after the attacks prompted a dangerous-persons alert.
“To the people of Saskatchewan and beyond, please be assured that we are using every human, investigational and technological resource we have available to locate and arrest the persons responsible for this tragedy and to ensure your safety,” said Rhonda Blackmore, commanding officer of the Saskatchewan RCMP.
Myles faces three counts of first-degree murder; Damien is charged with one count of first-degree murder.
Both men also face attempted murder and break-and-enter charges. More charges are expected as the investigation continues.
Saskatoon police confirmed they’ve been searching for James Smith Cree Nation suspect Myles Sanderson since May, when he stopped meeting with his assigned caseworker and was classified as “unlawfully at large.”
He had been serving a nearly five-year federal sentence for assault, robbery, mischief and uttering threats. He got a statutory release, and then disappeared.
Police say they anticipate releasing more information about the people who died later Monday.
But CBC has confirmed Lana Head, 49, is one of the deceased from James Smith Cree Nation. She leaves behind daughters Sable, 31, and Sage, 30.
Head’s former partner, Michael Brett Burns, said Head worked as a security guard at Northern Lights Casino and was also a commissionaire officer.
Head’s death was first reported by APTN.
“At this stage in our investigation, we believe some victims have been targeted by the suspect and others have been attacked randomly,” Blackmore said during a Sunday news conference.
- WATCH | RCMP provide update on 2 suspects at centre of stabbings, dangerous persons report:
In an update posted to Twitter at 7:36 a.m. CST on Monday, Regina police Chief Evan Bray said the two suspects are still at large despite “ongoing, relentless efforts through the night” from Regina police and RCMP officers to apprehend them.
Blackmore said hundreds of Saskatchewan RCMP staff, from operators to major crime units, are dedicated to the investigation.
Police say there’s no indication the two men travelled out of the province.
The Cree Nation and Weldon are within 60 kilometres of Prince Albert, and about 20 kilometres from each other.
Relationship between suspects unclear
Police resources from across Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Alberta are assisting with the multiple investigations, according to RCMP.
Damien Sanderson is described as:
- 155 pounds.
- With black hair and brown eyes.
Myles Sanderson is described as:
- 240 pounds.
- With brown hair and brown eyes.
RCMP say the relationship between the two is unclear.
They were also believed to be driving a black Nissan Rogue with a Saskatchewan licence plate 119 MPI, although they may have since changed their vehicle.
According to police, the vehicle was last reported seen in Regina around 11:20 a.m. on Sunday, though it hasn’t been confirmed.
The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN), which represents 74 First Nation communities in Saskatchewan including James Smith Cree Nation, joined a chorus of people offering their condolences to the James Smith Cree Nation after the “unspeakable violence that claimed the lives of innocent people.”
“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 FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron in a statement late Sunday.
The FSIN also said it has been in contact with the federal government, which has committed to providing support to the communities.
In a tweet published Sunday night, Indigenous Services Minister Patty Hajdu said she reached out to chiefs and leadership to mobilize supports “as quickly as possible.”
Indigenous Services Canada told CBC in an email it’s working with the Cree Nation, FSIN and Northern Inter-Tribal Health Authority (NITHA) to “identify and ensure health services and supports will be in place, including mental wellness support, for James Smith Cree Nation and neighbouring communities.”
NITHA is an Indigenous health services organization that serves 33 First Nation communities, including James Smith Cree Nation.
The James Smith Cree Nation has asked for privacy.
Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau were among those who offered condolences Sunday to those affected by the stabbings.
The Saskatchewan government said in a statement late Sunday that it has activated Provincial Command and deployed victim services to the community.
It has also supplemented other law enforcement resources with 16 staff from the provincial protective services.
The Saskatchewan Health Authority entered a Code Orange following the influx of critical patients from the stabbings on Sunday.
On Monday, Anne Lindemann with the health authority said hospitals were no longer in a Code Orange.
“Along with providing for the immediate medical care required for those affected, the SHA is working on deployment of mental health resources to families, communities, physicians and staff impacted,” Lindemann said in an email.
In an emailed statement Monday, the Canadian Red Cross said it’s sending workers to the area to “provide comfort and support to family members and the community impacted” by the attacks.
The Red Cross said it’s working with James Smith Cree Nation and the FSIN with support from the Prince Albert Grand Council and federal government.
Support is available for anyone affected by the latest reports. The Hope for Wellness hotline offers immediate help to people across Canada.
Mental health counselling and crisis support is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-855-242-3310 or by online chat at www.hopeforwellness.ca.