Canada stabbing rampage: 2nd suspect dead after manhunt

Videos and photos from the Saskatchewan scene showed a white SUV with deployed airbags on the side of the road surrounded by police cars.

SASKATCHEWAN, Canada — The latest suspect in a stabbing rampage that killed 10 people in and around a Canadian indigenous reservation died after his car was pulled off the road on Wednesday following a three-day manhunt, officials said.

Myles Sanderson, 32, was caught on a freeway near the Saskatchewan city of Rosthern as officers responded to a report of a stolen vehicle being driven by a man armed with a knife, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said .

Officers forced Sanderson’s vehicle off the road and into a ditch, Deputy Commissioner Rhonda Blackmore, commander of the RCMP in Saskatchewan, said at a news conference.

She said Sanderson experienced medical distress following his arrest. She said emergency medical personnel took him to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Blackmore did not provide any information on the cause of death. “I can’t say the exact manner of death,” she said.

But an official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, previously said Sanderson died of self-inflicted injuries, without giving further details.

Videos and photos from the scene showed a white SUV parked at the side of the road surrounded by police cars. Airbags had deployed in the SUV. Some photos and video taken from afar appeared to show Sanderson being searched.

His death came two days after the body of his brother, 30-year-old Damien Sanderson, was found in a field near the scene of their killing spree, which also injured 18 people. Police are investigating whether Myles Sanderson killed his brother.

Blackmore said that since both men are dead, authorities will have a hard time figuring out what started the killing spree.

“Now that Myles is gone, we may never understand that motivation,” she said.

But she began her remarks at the press conference by emphasizing that the people of Saskatchewan have an easier time resting.

“Tonight our province heaved a collective sigh of relief,” Blackmore said.

She later added, “I hope this brings her closure. I hope they can rest easy knowing that Myles Sanderson is no longer a threat to them.”

Some family members of the victims arrived at the scene on Wednesday, including Brian Burns, whose wife and son were killed.

“Now we can start healing. The healing starts today, now,” he said.

The stabbing rampage raised questions as to why Myles Sanderson – an ex-con with 59 convictions and a long history of shocking violence – was on the streets at all.

He was released by a parole board in February while serving over four years in prison for assault and robbery. But he has been wanted by police since May, apparently for violating the terms of his release, although the details were not immediately clear.

His long and lurid criminal record also showed that he had assaulted and stabbed one of the victims killed in the weekend’s shooting sprees seven years earlier, according to court records.

Canadian Minister of Public Safety Marco Mendicino said there would be an inquiry into the parole board’s assessment of Sanderson.

“I want to know the reasons behind the decision” to release him, Mendicino said. “I am extremely concerned about what happened here. A community has faltered.”

Investigators did not name a motive for the bloodshed.

The Saskatchewan Coroner’s Service said nine of those killed were from the James Smith Cree Nation: Thomas Burns, 23; Carol Burns, 46; Gregory Burns, 28; Lydia Gloria Burns, 61; Bonnie Burns, 48; Earl Burns, 66; Lana Head, 49; Christian Head, 54; and Robert Sanderson, 49, One was from Weldon, 78-year-old Wesley Patterson.

Authorities would not say how the victims could be related.

Mark Arcand said his half-sister Bonnie and their son Gregory were killed.

“Your son was already dead. My sister went out and tried to help her son and she was stabbed twice and died right next to him,” he said. “Right in front of her house she was killed by senseless acts. She protected her son. She protected three little boys. That’s why she’s a heroine.”

Arcand rushed to the reservation on the morning of the rampage. Afterwards, he said: “I woke up in the middle of the night and just screamed and screamed. I can’t get out of my head what I saw that day.”

As for what sparked the violence, Arcand said: “We’re all looking for the same answers. We don’t know what happened. Maybe we’ll never know. That’s the hardest part of it.”

Court documents state that in 2015, Sanderson assaulted his in-laws Earl Burns and Joyce Burns, repeatedly stabbed Earl Jones and injured Joyce Burns. He later pleaded guilty to assaulting and threatening Earl Burns’ life.

According to court records, many of Sanderson’s crimes were committed while intoxicated. He once told parole officers that drug use had driven him insane. Records showed that he repeatedly disobeyed court orders prohibiting him from drinking or using drugs.

Drugs and alcohol plague many of Canada’s Indigenous communities.

“The drug and alcohol problem on these reservations is totally out of control,” said Ivor Wayne Burns, whose sister was killed in the weekend’s attacks. “We have dead people and we asked beforehand that something be done.”

Myles Sanderson’s childhood was marked by violence, neglect and substance abuse, court records show. Sanderson, who is Indigenous and grew up on the Cree Reservation of 1,900 people, started drinking and smoking marijuana when he was about 12, and cocaine soon followed.

In 2017, he stormed into his ex-girlfriend’s home, punched a hole in a bathroom door while his two children were hiding in a bathtub, and threw a cement block at a vehicle parked outside, according to parole records.

He got into a fight at a shop a few days later and threatened to kill a clerk and burn down his parents’ home, documents say.

In November of that year, he threatened an accomplice to rob a fast-food restaurant by hitting him with a gun and stomping on his head. Then he stood guard during the raid.

In 2018, while drinking, he stabbed two men with a fork and knocked someone unconscious.

When he was released in February, the parole board imposed conditions on his contact with his partner and children, and said he could not have relationships with women without written permission from his parole officer.

In granting Sanderson’s “statutory release” the parole board said, “The board believes you will not pose an undue risk to society.”

Canadian law grants prisoners statutory release after serving two-thirds of their sentence. But the parole board can impose conditions on that freedom, and inmates who violate them — as Sanderson has done more than once — can be sent back to prison.

Sharna Sugarman, who organized a GoFundMe for the victims, questioned the parole board about his parole and wondered why Sanderson was still at large so many months after he was declared “unlawfully at large.”

“This is just outrageous to me,” said Sugarman, a consultant who counted one of the stab victims as a client. “If you say you were looking for him, then you weren’t looking that closely.”

AP writer Heather Hollingsworth of Kansas City contributed to this report. Canada stabbing rampage: 2nd suspect dead after manhunt

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