The latest suspect in a horrific shooting spree that killed 10 and injured 18 in western Canada is dead after being captured and police are hoping the stunning end to a gripping hunt that has spanned a fourth day will bring the families back who will bring some peace to the victim.
An official said Myles Sanderson, 32, died of self-inflicted injuries on Wednesday after police forced the stolen car he was driving off a Saskatchewan freeway.
Other officials declined to discuss how he died but expressed relief that the last suspected killer was no longer at large.
“Tonight, our province is breathing a collective breath,” Deputy Commissioner Rhonda Blackmore, commander of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Saskatchewan, said at a news conference Wednesday night.
The other suspect, Sanderson’s 30-year-old brother Damien Sanderson, was found dead early Sunday near the scene of the bloody knife attacks inside and around the James Smith Cree First Nation reservation. Both men were residents of the indigenous reservation.
Blackmore said Myles Sanderson was cornered as police responded to a report of a stolen vehicle being driven by a man armed with a knife. She said officers forced Sanderson’s vehicle off the road and into a ditch. He was arrested and a knife was found in the vehicle, she said.
Sanderson suffered a medical emergency while in custody, Blackmore said. She said attempts were made to revive him before an ambulance arrived and emergency medical personnel then took him to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
“All the life-saving measures that we are able to do were taken at that time,” she said.
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.
An independent investigation by members of the Saskatchewan Serious Incident Response Team went to the scene of the arrest and will review Sanderson’s death and police conduct.
The Federal Minister for Public Safety, Marco Mendicino, also emphasized that the incidents are being investigated.
“You have questions. We have questions,” he told reporters during a cabinet retreat in Vancouver, British Columbia, adding, “There will be two levels of police investigating the circumstances of Myles Sanderson’s death.”
His death came two days after the body of Damien Sanderson was found in a field near the scene of the knife-wielding rampage. 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 said she hopes the families of the stabbing victims will find some comfort that none of the Sandersons remain a threat.
“I hope this brings them 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 stabbings raise questions as to why Myles Sanderson – an ex-convict 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 garish criminal record also showed that he had assaulted and stabbed one of the victims killed in Sunday’s stabbing seven years earlier, according to court records.
Mendicino, the secretary of public safety, said there would be an inquiry into Sanderson’s parole board assessment.
“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.”
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. The other victim was from Weldon, 78-year-old Wesley Patterson.
Authorities would not say if 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. What I saw that day I can’t get out of my head.”
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 Burns 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.
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. He then stood guard during the raid.
In 2018, while drinking, he stabbed two men with a fork and knocked someone unconscious.
https://www.independent.ie/world-news/north-america/last-suspect-dies-in-canadas-horrific-knife-rampage-case-41970827.html The final suspect dies in Canada’s horrific case of knife shooting