Afraid as Canadian police search for the suspect in the fatal stabbing

JAMES SMITH CREE FIRST NATION, Saskatchewan – Fear heightened Tuesday at an Indigenous reserve in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan after police warned that the suspect in the weekend’s fatal stabbing could be nearby and officers surrounded a house with a drawn gun.

Police then sent out a warning that it was a false alarm and they determined the suspect was not in the community but people were still worried when his whereabouts were unknown and a provincewide alert remained. still validated.

Those on the James Smith Cree First Nation reserve had previously been asked to stay inside. An Associated Press reporter saw people running and screaming as police closed the roads.

The fugitive’s brother and accomplices Damien Sanderson were found dead Monday near the site of the stabbing. Police are investigating whether Myles Sanderson killed his brother. The brothers are accused of killing 10 people and wounding 18.

Leaders of the James Smith Cree Nation, where most of the stabbings take place, have blamed the killings on community drug and alcohol abuse, which they say is the legacy of indigenous colonization.

Cree Nation resident James Smith, Darryl Burns and his brother, Ivor Wayne Burns, said their sister, Gloria Lydia Burns, was a first responder who died while answering a call. Burns said his 62-year-old sister is on a crisis response team.

“She called a house and she got caught up in the violence,” he said. “She was there to help. She is a hero. ”

He blamed drugs and pointed to colonization of the rampant use of drugs and alcohol in the stockpile.

“We had a murder-suicide here three years ago. My niece and her boyfriend. Last year, we had a double murder. This year, we have 10 more people who have passed away and all because of drugs and alcohol,” said Darryl Burns.

Ivor Wayne Burns also blamed drugs for his sister’s death and said the brothers shouldn’t be hated.

“We have to forgive them, boys,” he said. “When you’re using heavy drugs, when you’re making coke, and when you’re using heroin and methamphetamine and that sort of thing, you don’t have the ability to feel. You stab someone and you think it’s funny. You stab them again and you laugh. “

Blackmore said police were still determining a motive, but the head of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous States repeated suggestions that the stabbings could be drug-related.

“This is the devastation we face when harmful illegal drugs enter our communities, and we ask all authorities to take direction from those involved. heads and councils and their members to create safer and healthier communities for our people,” said Sheriff Bobby Cameron.

Blackmore said Myles Sanderson’s criminal record dates back many years and includes violence.

He was released from prison in August 2021, but then his release was suspended in November of that year because he lied about his ex-wife and children living with him. At a hearing in February, the board rescinded the suspension and added conditions to limit and monitor contact with the woman and his children.

Public Safety Minister Mendicino said he has been informed by the parole board that there will be an investigation into their assessment of Myles Sanderson and his subsequent release.

“I want to know the reasoning behind this decision and I want to know if any mistakes were made in the process,” Mendicino said. “It should be an independent review.”

“I’m extremely concerned about what’s happening here,” he said.

The stabbing attack is one of the deadliest mass murders in Canada, where such crimes are less common than in the United States. The deadliest mass shooting in Canadian history occurred in 2020, when a man disguised as a police officer shot people in their home and set fires across Nova Scotia, killing 22 people. In 2019, a man used a truck to kill 10 pedestrians in Toronto.

Deadly mass stabs are rarer than mass shootings, but do happen around the world. In 2014, 29 people were slashed and stabbed to death at a train station in the southwestern Chinese city of Kunming. In 2016, a mass stabbing at a mental health facility in Sagamihara, Japan, left 19 people dead. A year later, three men killed eight people in a vehicle and stabbed them in London Bridge.

Police in Saskatchewan received the first call about a stabbing at 5:40 a.m. Sunday, and within minutes heard about several more. Blackmore said all of the dead or wounded were found in 13 different locations in the sparsely populated reserve and in the town. James Smith Cree Nation is about 30 kilometers (20 mi) from Weldon.

Weldonians have identified one of the dead as Wes Petterson, a retired widow who made coffee every morning at the elderly center. William Works, 47, and his mother, Sharon Works, 64, recall that he enjoyed gardening, picking berries, canning, making jams and cakes.

“He would undress you if he could,” says William Works, describing his neighbor as a “gentle old man” and “community above all.”

Sharon Works looked confused: “I don’t understand why they would target someone like him anyway, because he’s just a poor, helpless, 100-soaked, drenched little man. pounds. And he has trouble breathing because he has asthma and emphysema and people care about him because he is that person. He cares about everyone else. And they care about him.”


Gillies reports from Toronto.

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