Two fugitives sought in a massive manhunt following a rampage of stabbings that left 10 dead in Saskatchewan have been charged with first-degree murder.
Saskatchewan RCMP say Damien Sanderson, 31, and Myles Sanderson, 30, have also been charged with attempted murder and break and enter.
They say the number of injured rose Monday to 18 from 15.
“We are using every human, investigational and technological resource we have available to locate and arrest the persons responsible,” Rhonda Blackmore, the assistant RCMP commissioner in charge of Saskatchewan, said in a statement Monday.
“Hundreds of Saskatchewan RCMP staff are dedicated to this investigation — this includes operators taking 911 calls and tips, to front-line officers patrolling our streets to the on-scene specialized forensic and major crime unit teams.”
RCMP said the victims were attacked early Sunday at 13 locations in and around the James Smith Cree Nation and the nearby village of Weldon, northeast of Saskatoon.
Blackmore has said they believe some of the attacks were targeted and others were random but declined to provide details in order to preserve the integrity of the investigation.
Mounties said they continue to work with police in Regina following a tip Sunday that a black Nissan Rogue the suspects were thought to be travelling in was spotted in the capital city.
Residents in the neighbouring provinces of Alberta and Manitoba have also been warned to keep a lookout for the fugitives. Investigators said they are receiving help from RCMP in those provinces and other police agencies.
A Crime Stoppers bulletin was also issued in late May for Myles Sanderson, warning he was unlawfully at large.
In a video statement, Regina police Chief Evan Bray said, “We’ve got a fresh set of investigators and shifts coming in today that will take over this investigation and we will not stop this investigation until we have those two safely in custody.”
Damien Sanderson is described as five feet, seven inches tall and 155 pounds, and Myles Sanderson as six-foot-one and 200 pounds. Both have black hair and brown eyes.
Police said the Nissan Rogue had Saskatchewan licence plate 119 MPI. They also said it’s possible the suspects have switched vehicles.
On Monday afternoon, RCMP issued another dangerous persons alert following a shooting 200 kilometres west on the Witchekan Lake First Nation. However, they said it was not believed to be connected to the stabbings.
There’s been no official word on the identities of the stabbing victims, but RCMP said they expected to provide more details later Monday.
James Smith Cree Nation was closed to the public amid heavy police presence and some reporters were asked to leave.
The streets in Weldon were all but deserted, with doors closed and curtains drawn, as police patrolled the area. Many residents declined media interviews.
Ruby Works stopped to place flowers outside the home of one of the victims, identified by several residents as 77-year-old Wes Petterson.
Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe, in a video posted to social media, said the province has augmented police with extra security, including protections at hospitals where the victims are being treated.
“Yesterday’s attacks were horrific beyond anything that any of us could ever imagine,” said Moe.
“There are no words to adequately describe the pain and loss suffered by the victims’ families — this loss caused by these evil, vicious, senseless attacks.
“All of Saskatchewan grieves with you.”
His office has said flags at provincial government buildings will be lowered to half-mast one day for each person killed.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was “shocked and devastated by the horrific attacks,” adding all Canadians offer their support as they mourn with the people of Saskatchewan and “everyone affected by this tragic violence.”
Rev. Wilfred Sanderson, who works out of the two Anglican churches on James Smith Cree Nation, livestreamed a prayer service on Facebook on Sunday night. He said members of the community had hoped to pray together in person.
“We were supposed to gather this evening at the gym, but we’re on lockdown for the safety of everybody, so we couldn’t gather.
“This is the safest way that we could reach you people,” he said during the stream, which was shot in a kitchen.
“Lord, grant us strength to forgive,” Sanderson said.
“Grant us strength to get through this together.”
Mickey Djuric, The Canadian Press
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 5, 2022.