Manhunt continues for 2 suspects after Sask. stabbings leave 10 dead, 15 hospitalized

·5 min read
RCMP are searching for Damien Sanderson, left, and Myles Sanderson. Damien is described as five feet seven inches tall, about 155 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes. Police say Myles is six feet and one inch tall, about 240 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes. (RCMP - image credit)
RCMP are searching for Damien Sanderson, left, and Myles Sanderson. Damien is described as five feet seven inches tall, about 155 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes. Police say Myles is six feet and one inch tall, about 240 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes. (RCMP - image credit)

RCMP have issued a dangerous persons alert across Saskatchewan, Alberta and Manitoba, after multiple people were stabbed early Sunday morning in James Smith Cree Nation and the nearby village of Weldon, Sask.

In a news conference at 3:40 p.m. CST, police confirmed 10 people are dead and at least 15 people have been hospitalized, following a stabbing spree in 13 different locations.

"There may be additional injured victims who transported themselves to various hospitals," Rhonda Blackmore, commanding officer of the Saskatchewan RCMP, told reporters.

"We are currently actively looking for [them], dedicating maximum resources to this."

WATCH | RCMP say at least 10 dead after stabbings, 2 suspects at large:

Blackmore said that police expanded their emergency alert to the neighbouring provinces after receiving a report saying the two suspects — Damien Sanderson, 31, and Myles Sanderson, 30 — were spotted travelling on Regina's Arcola Avenue around 11:20 a.m CST. At the time, they were believed to be in a black Nissan Rogue with Saskatchewan licence plate 119 MPI.

However, she added, "at this point in time, we have no indication they travelled to another province."

Shortly after 8 p.m. CST, Regina police Chief Evan Bray issued a video statement on Twitter, saying that the suspects were still at large and likely in the city.

"An active, focused investigation will continue until they are located and taken into custody," Bray said.

Damien Sanderson is described as five feet seven inches tall and 155 pounds with black hair and brown eyes.

Myles Sanderson is described as six feet and one inch tall and 240 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes.

At the news conference, Blackmore said the relationship between the suspects is still unclear.

Victims both targeted and randomly attacked: RCMP

The location and direction of the suspects' travel is unknown, Blackmore said, but noted that everyone in Saskatchewan needs to remain vigilant as this is one of the largest and most significant events they have seen in recent years.

"We don't know if they have changed their vehicle," she said. "At this stage in our investigation, we believe some victims have been targeted by the suspect and others have been attacked randomly."

CBC Graphics
CBC Graphics

Police are asking Regina residents to take precautions and consider sheltering in place, Blackmore added.

She advised residents to be careful about allowing others into their home and to not leave a secure location.

Residents in the Regina area are also urged not to approach suspicious people and not to pick up hitchhikers.

Instead, the RCMP said they should report suspicious persons, emergencies or information to 911. They are also being asked to not share the locations of police.

James Smith Cree Nation state of emergency

In response to the "mass casualties" on James Smith Cree Nation the community, along with the Chakastaypasin Band of the Cree Nation and Peter Chapman Band, declared a state of emergency at noon Sunday.

It's set to remain in place until 5 p.m. CST on Sept 30.

The community has also asked for privacy at this time.

David Stobbe/Reuters
David Stobbe/Reuters

James Smith Cree Nation has a population around 1,000 people, and is located about 60 kilometres southeast of Prince Albert and about 300 kilometres north of Regina.

The village of Weldon, with a population just shy of 200 people, is about 25 kilometres southwest of James Smith Cree Nation and about 60 kilometres southeast of Prince Albert.

Police checkpoints have been set up throughout Saskatchewan, at least from Prince Albert to Regina, with officers checking identification.

STARS response

Three STARS air ambulances were dispatched to James Smith Cree Nation starting at around 6 a.m. CST Sunday.

Mark Oddan, a STARS air ambulance spokesperson, told CBC News two helicopters were sent from Saskatoon and one from Regina.

The first crew from Saskatoon triaged patients at the scene, and the second aircraft brought a doctor to the scene to lead the response.

With the physician included, there were 13 crew in total who attended the scene.

Other ground crews transported patients to Prince Albert, Nipawin and Melfort hospitals, Oddan said in the email.

The three STARS ambulances transported one patient each to the Royal University Hospital in Saskatoon. Two patients were taken from the scene and one was transported from the hospital in Melfort where they had arrived via ground ambulance.

Hospitals call for staff

Anne Lindemann, a spokesperson for the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA), said in an email that the health authority activated its emergency response process to answer the "influx of casualties," including calling for additional staff.

Lindemann did not specify how many people were injured in the stabbings and did not confirm any deaths at the time, but said multiple people are being triaged and cared for at multiple sites.

"As with any incident with a high number of casualties, our emergency preparedness teams are responding to the evolving needs to ensure patients are triaged and cared for appropriately," Lindemann said.

Prince Albert, Regina police assist in manhunt

The Prince Albert Police Service and Regina Police Service are assisting Saskatchewan RCMP in searching for the two suspects.

In Prince Albert, police said officers are occupying checkpoints across the city.

Residents are being asked to stay at a secure location and to be cautious around letting anyone inside their home.

Drivers and residents should also expect traffic delays.

David Stobbe/Reuters
David Stobbe/Reuters

In Regina, police are "actively investigating on several fronts to locate and arrest the suspects," the service said in a news release.

Extra police officers were also deployed around Mosaic Stadium, due to the tens of thousands of fans in town for the Labour Day Classic CFL football game between the Saskatchewan Roughriders and Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

Sask. premier, prime minister offer condolences

In the wake of the stabbing spree, both the prime minister and the province's premier offered their condolences on social media.

"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," wrote Justin Trudeau on Twitter.

Trudeau also thanked the first responders and added that the Canadian government is "closely monitoring the situation."

Scott Moe thanked police, first responders and the health-care professionals who are treating the victims as well.

He also offered his condolences to the victims' friends and family, on behalf of the Saskatchewan government.

"There are no words to adequately describe the pain and loss caused by this senseless violence. All of Saskatchewan grieves with the victims and their families," Moe wrote in a tweet.