Canadian police are searching Saskatchewan province for two suspects over the fatal stabbing of 10 people in an Indigenous community and a nearby town in one of the worst mass killings in the country’s history.
he suspects, identified as Damien Sanderson, 31, and Myles Sanderson, 30, also injured 15 people in the series of knife attacks that led the James Smith Cree Nation to declare a state of emergency and left residents terrified in 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.
Police said a vehicle reportedly carrying the two suspects had been spotted in Regina, 208 miles south of the communities where the stabbings occurred.
Regina police chief Evan Bray said on Sunday night they still believe the suspects are in Regina.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said in a message on Twitter: “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 hitch hikers. Report suspicious persons, emergencies or info to 9-1-1. Do not disclose police locations.”
Rhonda Blackmore, the assistant commissioner of the RCMP in Saskatchewan, said: “It is horrific what has occurred in our province today,” adding there were 13 crime scenes where either deceased or injured people were found.
Ms Blackmore said some of the victims appear to have been targeted by the suspects, but others appear to have been attacked at random.
She could not provide a motive, but the chief of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations gave a statement suggesting the stabbings could be drug-related.
The elected leaders of the three communities that make up the James Smith Cree Nation, including the Chakastaypasin Band and the Peter Chapman Band, declared a local state of emergency and opened up two emergency operations centres.
Chakastaypasin Chief Calvin Sanderson – who is not related to the suspects – said everyone has been affected by the tragic events.
“They were our relatives, friend,” Mr Sanderson said of the victims. “It’s pretty horrific.”
Chief Bobby Cameron of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations said: “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.”
Among the 10 victims killed was Lana Head, who is the former partner of Michael Brett Burns, and the mother of their two daughters.
Mr Burns told the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network that “It’s sick how jail time, drugs and alcohol can destroy many lives,” he said. “I’m hurt for all this loss.”
Last May, Saskatchewan Crime Stoppers issued a wanted list that included Myles Sanderson, writing that he was “unlawfully at large”.
It is among the deadliest mass killings in Canadian history. The deadliest gun rampage in Canadian history happened in 2020 when a man disguised as a police officer shot people in their homes and set fires across the province of Nova Scotia, killing 22 people.
A man used a van to kill 10 pedestrians in Toronto in 2019. But mass killings are less common in Canada than in the United States.