Police in Western Canada found and apprehended Myles Sanderson, 32, in connection with a Sunday stabbing spree that has rocked the province of Saskatchewan. He later died in police custody. Photo courtesy of Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Sept. 7 (UPI) — The lone living suspect accused of killing 10 people during a stabbing spree in Western Canada over the weekend died Wednesday after being taken into police custody, authorities said.
The Royal Canadian Mount Police announced in a statement that Myles Sanderson was located in the town of Rosthern and taken into custody at about 3:30 p.m. local time.
During a press conference Wednesday night, Assistant Commissioner Rhonda Blackmore announced that Myles Sanderson went into “medical distress” shortly after his arrest, and was transported to a Saskatoon hospital where he was pronounced dead.
“This evening, our province is breathing a collective sigh of relief as Myles Sanderson is no longer at large,” she said. “I can confirm that he is no longer a threat and there is no risk to the public related to this investigation.”
Myles Sanderson, 32, was the only remaining suspect sought for Sunday’s stabbing spree in the small indigenous community of James Smith Cree Nation, located about 36 miles east of Prince Albert, after his brother, Damien Sanderson, 31, was found dead Monday in the indigenous community from injuries that appear to have not been self-inflicted.
He had been charged with three counts of first-degree murder, one count of attempted murder and one count of break-and-enter.
Authorities said 10 people were killed and 19 were injured in 13 locations in James Smith Cree Nation and the nearby village of Weldon early Sunday.
Blackmore told reporters that police located Myles Sanderson at about 2 p.m. when officers responded to a report of a break-and-enter in Waka near the James Smith Cree Nation, where most of the stabbings took place and where officers unsuccessfully searched for him on Tuesday.
Sanderson was reported to police as standing outside the residence with a knife before stealing a White Chevrolet truck and fleeing the property, Blackmore said.
An emergency alert concerning the vehicle was then disseminated to the public, which made more than 20 calls to police between 2:50 and 3:35 p.m. concerning sightings of the vehicle.
At 3:30 p.m., the suspect vehicle was seen traveling south on Highway 11 away from Rosthern when police intercepted.
“To ensure the safety of drivers on the highway, the vehicle was directed off the road and into a nearby ditch,” Blackmore said.
Police surrounded the vehicle and after confirming its occupant’s identity, arrested Myles Sanderson. A knife was found in the vehicle.
Blackmore told reporters that she “can’t speak to the specific manner of [Myles Sanderson’s] death” as it will be part of the autopsy report, but RCMP officers on the scene performed “all life-saving methods capable.”
An external investigation has been requested, she said.
She told reporters that members of the James Smith Cree Nation had told her that they haven’t been able to sleep since Sunday out of fear that Myles Sanderson may return to their tight-knit community where everyone knows one another.
“I hope that this brings them some sense of closure in that they can rest easy tonight knowing that Myles Sanderson is no longer a threat to them,” she said.
Blackmore said some of them have witnessed “incredible trauma.”
“Hopefully this is the first step to allow them to start that healing process, that grieving process,” she said.
Earlier Wednesday, officials released the identities of the 10 people killed in the stabbing spree.
Six of the victims shared the last name Burns and were reported to be from the same family.
Earl Burns, a school bus driver, managed to board his bus after being stabbed and tried to drive into a village for help, but he died along the way, The New York Times reported.
Gloria Burns counseled people with drug, alcohol and gaming addictions. She also raised five adopted children as a single mother.
Bonnie Burns will be remembered for her laughter, her half-brother Mark Arcand said at a news conference Wednesday.
“She always put other people before her; that’s what we want people to remember,” he said. “She was a member that made a difference in people’s lives.”
The oldest victim at 78-years-old was Wesley Petterson, who was the only victim who did not live on the James Smith Cree Nation. He ran a drop-in coffee house in the village of Weldon. Neighbors described him as a bird lover who was against the idea of cutting trees down in the area.
“This man did not deserve to die like this,” Ruby Works, a friend, told The New York Times as she carried a bouquet of sunflowers to his memorial on Monday night. “It’s just so terrible.
According to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the first 911 call about a stabbing was received around 5:40 a.m. Sunday. Police then began receiving additional calls minutes later.
Blackmore told reporters that with Myles Sanderson’s death, many aspects of the mass killing may never be known, including what happened between him and his brother as well as why it was carried out in the first place.
“Now that Myles is deceased, we may never have an understanding of that motivation,” she said. “His motivation may at this time and forever only be known to Myles.”
Here is a list of the victims provided by the RCMP:
- Thomas Burns, 23, of James Smith Cree Nation
- Carol Burns, 46, of James Smith Cree Nation
- Gregory Burns, 28, of James Smith Cree Nation
- Lydia Gloria Burns, 61, of James Smith Cree Nation
- Bonnie Burns, 48, of James Smith Cree Nation
- Earl Burns, 66, of James Smith Cree Nation
- Lana Head, 49, of James Smith Cree Nation
- Christian Head, 54, of James Smith Cree Nation
- Robert Sanderson, 49, of James Smith Cree Nation
- Wesley Petterson, 78, of Weldon