The Washington Post

Stabbings suspect charged with murder died in police custody, officials say


toronto — Fugitive stabbings suspect Myles Sanderson died in police custody Wednesday after a four-day manhunt that set the province of Saskatchew­an on edge, police said.

Sanderson, 32, and his brother, Damien Sanderson, 31, were charged with murder in the stabbing attacks on the James Smith Cree Nation and the nearby village of Weldon on Sunday that killed 10 people and wounded 18 in one of Canada’s deadliest mass killings. Damien Sanderson was found dead on the James Smith Cree Nation on Monday with injuries that authoritie­s said did not appear to be self-inflicted.

Assistant Commission­er Rhonda Blackmore, commanding officer of the Saskatchew­an Royal Canadian Mounted Police, said Myles Sanderson went into medical distress shortly after he was taken into custody Wednesday afternoon. He was taken to a hospital and died, Blackmore said.

Earlier Wednesday, police said Sanderson had been taken into custody. “Myles Sanderson was located and taken in to police custody near Rosthern, [Saskatchew­an], at approximat­ely 3:30 p.m. today,” the Saskatchew­an RCMP said in a statement. “There is no longer a risk to public safety relating to this investigat­ion.”

Rosthern is roughly 80 miles southwest of the James Smith Cree Nation, where the killings began Sunday morning. Police received the first call at 5:40 a.m., then many more, about stabbings on the Indigenous reserve. By the end of the day, the carnage traced across 13 different crimes scenes.

The victims, whose identities were released on Wednesday, ranged in age from 23 to 78. All but one were from the James Smith Cree Nation.

“It’s a huge amount of weight off a lot of people’s shoulders that he’s in custody,” Randy Hoback, a Canadian lawmaker who represents the part of Saskatchew­an where the killings occurred, told the Canadian Broadcasti­ng Corp. before Sanderson’s death was announced. “I think a lot of people are breathing a big sigh of relief and will sleep a lot better tonight.”

Earlier Wednesday, the brothers’ parents pleaded with Sanderson to turn himself in.

“Myles, my boy, turn yourself in. Please. You can do this,” his mother said in an interview with the CBC. “Come back. Turn yourself in. Do the right thing.”

“We don’t want no more hurt,” his father said. “Please, my son. I love you. Turn yourself in. Be safe.”

They spoke on the condition their names and images and the location of the interview were not disclosed, the CBC said, citing safety concerns.

After the stabbings, police said they believed Sanderson was in Regina, the provincial capital. On Tuesday, they converged on the James Smith Cree Nation after reports that he had been seen there, and urged residents to seek shelter. But they later determined he wasn’t there and said his whereabout­s were unknown.

Police on Wednesday afternoon issued an emergency alert for Wakaw, some 20 miles east of Rosthern, after reports of a man with a knife driving a stolen white Chevrolet Avalanche. They said they believed it could be connected to the mass stabbing.

Sanderson was arrested on the side of a road. Video broadcast by the CBC showed the Avalanche surrounded by police vehicles.

Police have not identified a motive for the killings.

Since Sanderson was named as a suspect in the attacks Sunday, Canadians have asked why a man with 59 conviction­s as an adult and a violent criminal past spanning nearly two decades was on the streets.

Police had been searching for him since May, when he was declared “unlawfully at large” after not reporting to his parole officer.

He was serving a four-year, four-month sentence for charges including assault, robbery and other episodes of violence, including instances where he stabbed two people with a fork, beat a man unconsciou­s and repeatedly kicked the head of a police officer, according to records from the Parole Board of Canada obtained by The Washington Post.

The records said Sanderson began using drugs and alcohol when he was 12, and grew up in an environmen­t where physical abuse and domestic violence were common. According to the records, Sanderson had said he was easily angered when drunk and a “different” person when sober.

He was given a statutory release in August 2021. Canadian law requires some federal offenders who have served two-thirds of their sentences to be released from prison and placed under direct supervisio­n in their communitie­s.

Sanderson’s statutory release was canceled in November after he was not honest with his parole supervisor. The board canceled the suspension in February, writing that he would “not present an undue risk” to the public.

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