Canadian police searched across the expansive province of Saskatchewan for two suspects believed to have stabbed 10 people to death in an Indigenous community and a nearby town in one of the deadliest mass killings in the country’s history.
The suspects also injured 15 people in the series of knife attacks that led the James Smith Cree Nation to declare a state of emergency and badly shook residents of the nearby village of Weldon.
“No one in this town is ever going to sleep again. They’re going to be terrified to open their door,” said Weldon resident Ruby Works, who was close to one of the victims.
The stabbings occurred in 13 separate locations throughout the James Smith Cree Nation and in Weldon, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said.
RCMP said they are looking for 31-year-old Damien Sanderson and 30-year-old Myles Sanderson in connection with the stabbings. Damien Sanderson was described as being 5’7″ and weighing roughly 155 pounds. Police said Myles Sanderson is 6’1″ and around 200 pounds. Police believe they may be driving a black Nissan Rogue.
Rhonda Blackmore, the Assistant Commissioner of the RCMP Saskatchewan, said some of the victims appear to have been targeted by the suspects but others appear to have been attacked at random. She couldn’t provide a motive.
“It is horrible what has occurred in our province today,” Blackmore said.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted, “The attacks in Saskatchewan today are horrific and heartbreaking. I’m thinking of those who have lost a loved one and of those who were injured.”
Blackmore said police began receiving reports before 6 am of stabbings on the First Nation community. More reports of attacks quickly followed and by noon the police issued a warning that a vehicle reportedly carrying the two suspects had been spotted in Regina.
Police said the last information they had from the public was that the suspects were sighted there around lunchtime. There have been no sightings since.
Regina police chief Evan Bray said later Sunday night that the suspects were still at large and police “still believe the suspects are likely in the city of Regina.”
“If in the Regina area, take precautions & consider sheltering in place. Do not leave a secure location. DO NOT APPROACH suspicious persons. Do not pick up hitchhikers. Report suspicious persons, emergencies or info to 9-1-1. Do not disclose police locations,” the RCMP said in a message on Twitter.
Weldon resident Diane Shier said she was in her garden Sunday morning when she noticed emergency crews a couple of blocks away.
Shier said her neighbor, a man who lived with his grandson, was killed. She did not want to identify the victim out of respect for his family.
“I am very upset because I lost a good neighbor,” she said.
The search for suspects was carried out as fans descended on Regina for a sold out annual Labor Day game between the Canadian Football League’s Saskatchewan Roughriders and Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
The Regina Police Service said in a news release that with the help of Mounties, it was working on several fronts to locate and arrest the suspects and had “deployed additional resources for public safety throughout the city, including the football game at Mosaic Stadium.”
The alert first issued by Melfort, Saskatchewan RCMP about 7 am was extended hours later to cover Manitoba and Alberta, as the two suspects remained at large.
The Saskatchewan Health Authority said multiple patients were being treated at several sites.
“A call for additional staff was issued to respond to the influx of casualties,” authority spokeswoman Anne Linemann said in an email.
Mark Oddan, a spokesperson with STARS Air Ambulance, said two helicopters were dispatched from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and another from Regina.
He said two carried patients to the Royal University Hospital in Saskatoon, while the third carried a patient to the Royal University from a hospital in Melfort, a short distance southeast of Weldon.
Oddan said due to privacy laws, he could not disclose information about their ages, genders or conditions.