Canadian police have searched the sprawling 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 murders in the country’s history.
The suspects also injured 15 people in the series of knife attacks that prompted James Smith’s Cree Nation to declare a state of emergency and severely shook residents of the nearby town of Weldon.
“No one in this town will ever sleep. They’ll be terrified to open the door,” said Weldon resident Ruby Works, who was standing near one of the victims.
The stabbings occurred at 13 separate locations on the James Smith Cree Nation and in Weldon, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said.
RCMP said they are looking for Damien Sanderson, 31, and Myles Sanderson, 30, in connection with the stabbings. Damien Sanderson was described as 5’7″ and weighing approximately 155 pounds. Police said Myles Sanderson is 6’1″ and weighs about 200 pounds. Police believe they may be driving a black Nissan Rogue.
RCMP Saskatchewan deputy commissioner Rhonda Blackmore said some of the victims appear to have been attacked by the suspects, but others appear to have been randomly attacked. She was unable to provide a motive.
“It is horrible what has happened in our province today,” Blackmore said.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted: “The attacks in Saskatchewan today are horrific and heartbreaking. Thinking of those who have lost a loved one and those who were injured.”
Blackmore said police began receiving reports before 6 a.m. of stabbings in the First Nations community. More reports of attacks quickly followed, and by noon police issued a warning that a vehicle allegedly carrying the two suspects had been seen in Regina.
Police said the last information they had from the public was that the suspects were seen there around lunchtime. There have been no sightings since then.
Regina Police Chief Evan Bray said later Sunday night that the suspects were still at large and that police “still believe the suspects are likely to be in the city of Regina.”
“If you are in the Regina area, please take precautions and consider sheltering in place. Do not leave a safe spot. DO NOT APPROACH suspicious persons. Do not pick up hitchhikers. Report suspicious persons, emergencies or information 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 yard Sunday morning when she noticed emergency equipment a couple 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 took place as fans descended on Regina for an annual sold-out Labor Day game between the Canadian Football League’s Saskatchewan Roughriders and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
The Regina Police Service said in a news release that with the help of the Mounties, it was working on multiple fronts to locate and arrest the suspects and had “deployed additional resources for public safety throughout the city, including the soccer at Mosaic Stadium.
The alert first issued by the Melfort, Saskatchewan RCMP around 7 a.m. was extended hours later to cover Manitoba and Alberta, as the two suspects remained at large.
The Saskatchewan Health Authority said several patients were being treated at various sites.
“A call has been issued for additional staff to respond to the influx of victims,” spokeswoman for the authority, Anne Linemann, said in an email.
Mark Oddan, a spokesman for STARS Air Ambulance, said two helicopters were dispatched from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and one from Regina.
He said two took patients to the Royal University Hospital in Saskatoon, while the third took a patient to the Royal University from a hospital in Melfort, a short drive southeast of Weldon.
Oddan said that due to privacy laws, he could not reveal information about their ages, genders or conditions.
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