One of two brothers who were the target of a massive manhunt in Canada after allegedly carrying out a stabbing spree that left 10 dead and 18 wounded has been found dead, police said Monday.
The killings in the remote James Smith Cree Nation Indigenous community and the town of Weldon in Saskatchewan province in western Canada are among the deadliest incidents of mass violence to ever hit the nation.
Police have been scouring Saskatchewan and two neighboring provinces for the men, identified as Myles and Damien Sanderson, aged 30 and 31 respectively, since early Sunday.
On Monday afternoon, Damien Sanderson’s body was “located outdoors in a heavily grassed area in proximity to a house that was being examined” by authorities in the James Smith Cree Nation, federal police Assistant Commissioner Rhonda Blackmore told a news conference.
He had “visible injuries” that were not self-inflicted, she said.
“We can’t say for sure how Damien came to be deceased,” Blackmore said, adding that he “could potentially” have been killed by his brother Myles who remains at large and is “strongly believed” to have also sustained injuries.
The manhunt for Myles Sanderson continues, with border officials alerted to the possibility he may try to sneak into the United States.
Evan Bray, police chief of provincial capital Regina, said authorities were still operating under the assumption that he was hiding out in the city — 300 kilometers (185 miles) from the site of the attack — after suspected sightings in the area.
He urged residents “to be very aware of your surroundings and report anything that’s unusual or any information that you might have” in a video posted to Twitter Monday evening, adding that the search would continue through the night.
Earlier, federal police announced that murder, attempted murder and burglary charges were laid against the pair, adding that further charges are anticipated as the investigation progresses.
Myles Sanderson has also been wanted since May for breaching parole, after reportedly serving part of a five-year sentence for assault and robbery.
– Attacks ‘all too commonplace’ –
In an address in Ottawa, after ordering the flag on parliament lowered in memory of the victims, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the attacks were shocking and heartbreaking.
“This kind of violence has no place in our country,” he said. “Sadly, over these past years, tragedies like these have become all too commonplace.”
Since 2017, Canada has witnessed a rampaging gunman masquerading as a policeman kill 22 people in Nova Scotia, another kill six worshippers at a Quebec City mosque, and a driver of a van kill 11 pedestrians in Toronto.
Residents of the James Smith Cree Nation and Weldon spoke of their shock and devastation, and have identified two of the victims as 77-year-old widower Wes Petterson and a 49-year-old mother of two.
Weldon’s Diane Shier told the daily Saskatoon Star Phoenix her neighbor Petterson lived with his adult grandson, who hid in the basement and called the police.
“It was about 7:30 am. My husband was in the garden. He saw police cars and an ambulance come to town. It’s a little town. This is terrible, terrible. We’ve still got our doors locked, staying inside, not going out,” she told the newspaper.
Fellow resident Ruby Works said the killings would haunt the town.
“No one in this town is ever going to sleep again. They’re going to be terrified to open their door,” Works said.
Another resident, Robert Rush, said he had left his granddaughter at home to go buy a birthday cake for his wife.
“I gave her two guns and a bat,” he said.
Thirteen of the wounded remained hospitalized as of Monday evening, with four in critical condition, Saskatchewan authorities said in a statement.
– 13 crime scenes –
Blackmore said authorities believe some of the victims were targeted and others were attacked randomly.
Maximum police resources were being deployed for the manhunt, she added. “We are using every human, investigational and technological resource we have available to locate and arrest the persons responsible for this tragedy,” she said earlier.
Forensic teams could be seen in broadcast images combing 13 crime scenes in the Indigenous community and Weldon for clues.
Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations Chief Bobby Cameron lamented “the unspeakable violence that claimed the lives of innocent people” and blamed “harmful illegal drugs (that) invade our communities” for the destruction.
He urged Saskatchewan residents to come forward with any relevant information.
“The uncertainty continues to cause immeasurable stress and panic among our families, friends and neighbors,” he said.
“They have already gone through enough.”