‘Hurry please’: Inquest told 92 emergency calls made during Saskatchewan rampage

'Hurry please': Inquest told 92 emergency calls made during Saskatchewan rampage
People comfort each other during a lunch break at the public coroner's inquest into the mass stabbings that happened on James Smith Cree Nation in 2022 in Melfort, Sask., Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Liam Richards

Family members hugged and wept at a coroner’s inquest after learning how a mass killer went from home to home, kicking in doors and stabbing people on a Saskatchewan First Nation.

The initial calls to 911 played Tuesday at the inquest show the increasing fear of community members as Myles Sanderson, armed with a knife, terrorized people on the James Smith Cree Nation on Sept. 4, 2022.

“Hurry please. I’m bleeding,” Brandon Genereaux said in a call to a 911 operator after he was attacked.

Genereaux would survive the violent rampage but his father, Robert Sanderson, was among the 11 people killed on the First Nation and in the nearby village of Weldon

Myles Sanderson, 32, died in police custody a few days later.

Staff Sgt. Robin Zentner with the RCMP major crimes unit continued his testimony Tuesday, laying out for jurors how the attacks unfolded.

Zentner testified Monday that Myles Sanderson and his brother, Damien Sanderson, were causing chaos on the First Nation in the days and hours before the rampage.

The inquest also saw text messages Damien Sanderson sent his wife saying he was ready to die.

Damien Sanderson was the first to be killed by his brother. Zentner said police believe he was killed after Myles Sanderson stabbed his first victim.

Damien Sanderson intervened in that stabbing, Zentner said, and Myles Sanderson later attacked his brother in a vehicle. Damien Sanderson ran out of the vehicle, leaving a bloody shirt on the road, the inquest heard.

Some family members began to cry as the inquest was shown images of Damien Sanderson’s shirtless body where it was later found in tall grass off the side of a road.

The inquest, which is being held in Melfort, northeast of Saskatoon, is to establish the events leading up to the killings, who died, and when and where each person was killed.

A second inquest focusing on Myles Sanderson’s death is scheduled for February.

Zentner was asked if RCMP investigated the reason for the killings. He said Mounties uncovered texts between the brothers and some victims in the days before the attacks. There was talk about drug sales and debts, or money owed from prison.

Zentner said RCMP interviews with family also revealed Myles Sanderson was “out for anyone” associated with Terror Squad, a gang that has prominence in Saskatchewan.

But, Zentner said, there’s no indication the killings were gang-related and some were clearly random.

RCMP have said because the killer is dead, people may never get all the answers about what happened.

The inquest has heard that a few days before the killings, Myles Sanderson went to the First Nation to sell drugs. He got in a fight with his children’s mother, and Damien Sanderson tried to calm him down.

The inquest heard the brothers drove around the community, getting into fights and selling drugs.

As the brothers spent more time together, Damien Sanderson’s texts to his wife became more fatalistic. Zentner said Monday that nobody has provided a full explanation for the tone of Damien Sanderson’s texts.

Zentner’s timeline of the attacks includes photos of shoe prints on door frames, blood spattered in homes and video from the vehicles of responding officers.

He gave an overview of how the killer moved through the community, stealing vehicles and slashing residents.

There were 92 calls to 911.

Myles Sanderson’s 13-year-old son was in the basement of the home where Earl Burns Sr., Sanderson’s former father-in-law, was attacked. Burns later died on a school bus he drove chasing after Sanderson.

The boy told police he heard his father tell Burns: “I’m going to kill you and my son,” the inquest heard.

Sanderson bragged about the killings as he went to other homes on the First Nation.

“Want to know how many bodies I got tonight?” Sanderson told one survivor.

First Nations leaders have said the inquest may provide some answers to help families grieve. They are also calling for First Nations to receive a notification when a member is released from prison.

Sanderson, who had a record of violent assaults, received statutory release earlier in 2022 but was unlawfully at large at the time of the killings.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 16, 2024.

The Canadian PressThe Canadian Press

Recent Stories

Send us your news tips and videos!