At Least 10 Killed in Multiple Stabbing Attacks Across Saskatchewan, Police Say

A series of stabbing attacks across two communities in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan on Sunday, September 4, left at least 10 people dead and a further 15 people injured, authorities said.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) said the attacks took place across 13 different locations in the James Smith Cree Nation and Weldon areas of Saskatchewan on Sunday.

“At this stage in our investigation, we believe some of the victims have been targeted by the suspects and others have been attacked randomly,” Rhonda Blackmore, Assistant Commissioner of RCMP Saskatchewan, said.

Police issued a province-wide Dangerous Person Alert for two suspects, identified as Damien Sanderson and Myles Sanderson.

The search for both suspects was still underway as of Sunday night, police said.

“It is horrific what has happened in our province today,” Blackmore said. Credit: Saskatchewan RCMP via Storyful

Video transcript

RHONDA BLACKMORE: Good afternoon. Thank you for being here. I'd like to welcome and acknowledge the presence of Chief Evan Bray, chief-of-police with the Regina Police Service. He'll be available to answer any questions with respect to anything occurring in the city of Regina after we finish the statement.

I'm here today to share with you the details of today's serious incident and to ask for your continued vigilance. Today, September 4th, at 5:40 this morning, the Saskatchewan Divisional Operations Communication Center or the RCMP DOCC received a call reporting a stabbing on the James Smith Cree Nation. In the following minutes, our DOCC received multiple calls reporting additional stabbings at different locations in the community.

The suspects name were Damien Sanderson and Myles Sanderson. Melford RCMP officers and other resources were immediately dispatched to the locations in the community to help the victims and to track the two suspects. At 7:12 AM, Saskatchewan RCMP issued an initial dangerous persons alert to residents of the James Smith Cree Nation And surrounding communities, including Candle Lake, Prince Albert, Melford, Humboldt, and Rostyn, informing the public of stabbings being committed by two male suspects and asking the public to seek immediate shelter and shelter in place.

As the police investigation advanced and new information came to light, Saskatchewan RCMP sent several additional updates to continue to inform the public of this rapidly unfolding event. At 7:57 AM, an updated alert was sent to the same communities with the names, descriptions, and pictures of the two suspects. At 8:20, the dangerous persons alert was extended to the entire province of Saskatchewan.

As the investigation confirmed the two suspects, Damien Sanderson and Myles Sanderson were traveling in a vehicle. At 9:45 AM, a fourth dangerous persons alert was sent to the entire province, indicating multiple victims in multiple locations were located, including one victim outside the James Smith Cree Nation, one in the community of Weldon, Saskatchewan, and that some victims were believed to have been attacked randomly. A description of the suspect vehicle and the correct picture to identify Myles Sanderson were included.

At 11:25, we sent requests to Manitoba RCMP and Alberta RCMP to extend the dangerous persons alert to the residents of their provinces. At 12:07, a fifth update was sent advising the residents of Saskatchewan the suspect vehicle had been seen by a driver on Arcola Avenue in Regina and asked them to consider sheltering in place, at this point in our investigation, we have located 10 deceased individuals in 13 locations in the community of James Smith Cree Nation and Weldon, Saskatchewan.

Several additional victims have been injured, 15 of which at this point have been transported to various hospitals. There may be additional injured victims who transported themselves to various hospitals. We ask any injured person who hasn't already spoken to police to please call 310 RCMP. That is 310-7267.

Currently, we are actively looking for the two suspects, helping the victims, and investigating the many crime scenes. We're dedicating a maximum number of resources to this investigation, and thank our many provincial and inter-provincial policing partners who are providing additional support. Let me be clear. We are still looking for the two suspects. We are asking residents across Saskatchewan and our neighboring provinces to be vigilant.

At this stage in our investigation, we believe some of the victims have been targeted by the suspect and others have been attacked randomly. The two suspects are Damien Sanderson and Myles Sanderson. Damien Sanderson is described as a 31-year-old male, 5 foot 7, 155 pounds with black hair and brown eyes. Myles Sanderson is a 30-year-old male, 6 foot 1, 240 pounds with brown hair and brown eyes. Their pictures are available on social media channels and websites.

If Damien and Myles are listening or receive this information, I would ask that they turn themselves into police immediately. They are considered armed and dangerous. They are believed to be in a black Nissan Rogue SUV with Saskatchewan license plate: 119-MPI. At this point, we don't know if they have changed vehicles since this morning. Their location and direction of travel is unknown. This is why we need everyone in the province to stay vigilant and report any suspicious activity by calling 911 immediately. If you see the suspects, and/or their vehicle, do not approach them or the vehicle. Immediately leave the area and call 911.

Our thoughts are with the many victims, deceased and injured, their family, friends, and communities. It is horrific what has occurred in our province today. Know that the Saskatchewan RCMP is committed and will remain committed to use every resource we have to locate and arrest these individuals. Thank you. Sergeant Audrey Susi will provide this information in French now, and myself and Chief Brey will be available to answer questions right after.

- [SPEAKING FRENCH]

I will now ask Assistant Commissioner Blackmore to answer your question.

[SPEAKING FRENCH]

RHONDA BLACKMORE: Are there questions?

- Yeah, I guess--

BRANDON HARDER: It's Brandon Harder from "Leader-Post" newspaper. Just wondering if you can offer any information about the relationship, if any, between the two suspects and if they were known to police.

RHONDA BLACKMORE: At this point, we're still in the initial stages of the investigation and determining that information.

BRANDON HARDER: And this may be as well for Chief Bray but I guess-- are we confident that they're still in the city or could they be traveling elsewhere?

EVAN BRAY: Yeah, we're-- the last information that we had from the public, and it was information from the public that they were sighted in Regina. And as Assistant Commissioner Blackmore had indicated, that was around lunchtime today. We've had no further sightings since. And we have no information to believe differently. So we're operating as if they are in the city.

But at this point, I mean, we've got lots of resources similar to what the RCMP have dedicated to this both in and around the city. And of course, the alerts have gone out. So if they have left the city, we will see if a sighting or if information comes to us from somewhere else. But until then, we're operating as if they're here.

BRANDON HARDER: And with the Rider game going on here, obviously the large public event takes a lot of police resources as well. You've got folks assisting RCMP in the search. I guess could you just talk about your approach to managing that with a person-- on a personnel level or a policing level?

EVAN BRAY: Sure. So first priority is public safety. And so we do have a large amount of resources dedicated to ensuring we have adequate resources throughout the city and certainly around the Rider game that's going to be happening, both inside and outside of the stadium.

But along with that and I think as importantly, we have a lot of resources dedicated to ongoing investigations working collaboratively with the RCMP to try and determine the whereabouts of our suspects so that we're able to locate them, take them into custody, and ultimately eliminate the threat that exists.

SAM MACIAG: I'm wondering what-- oh. Sam Maciag from CBC. I'm wondering what you can tell us about what you've done in terms of efforts to catch them. Just a lot of the public have been sending us messages saying, we know to stay home but what are the RCMP doing? And I know we're not to share where you guys are and what you're doing, but what can you tell us without outing your officers about what you guys have been doing?

RHONDA BLACKMORE: I can't speak to specific investigative steps that have been taken. But I can tell you that every avenue is being explored. Some of those involve technological resources. Some involve human resources. We're taking all steps possible to track these individuals. And any information that comes in from the public or other sources that we obtain the information, we're following up on that information immediately.

SAM MACIAG: We've received statements from a number of police organizations saying that they're setting up their own checkpoints in their city and that people should anticipate that happening. Can you tell us which police organizations, or have all police organizations kind of volunteered to help in this search?

RHONDA BLACKMORE: We've had significant assistance from police agencies across the province as well as from our RCMP resources in Alberta and Manitoba have been providing assistance to us and offering assistance and resources. The longer an event is protracted or goes on, obviously people need to be relieved and resources need to be replaced. So we're considering all that and taking that into consideration.

We've had exceptional cooperation from not only the Regina Police Service but other police agencies throughout the province, including Saskatchewan-- sorry, the Saskatoon Police Service and the Prince Albert Police Service have both been outstanding in assisting us with resources and any asks that we have of them.

SAM MACIAG: And just sort of to reiterate the question from earlier, but is there anything you can tell us about the history of these two at all, other than just that you're looking for them?

RHONDA BLACKMORE: At this point, we're still taking those investigative steps to determine history. We'll certainly look into that and we're looking into that. The priority right now is to locate them and make sure that we have them in custody so that we can ensure the public of their safety.

SAM MACIAG: Last question. What are you hearing from Manitoba and Alberta as well? Since you've expanded the alert to other provinces, what are you hearing from other jurisdictions?

RHONDA BLACKMORE: At this point in time, we have no indication that they've traveled to another province. But given the fact that they are in a vehicle, we can't say with 100% certainty where they are right now. And we believe it's prudent to notify the residents of those provinces that there is a possibility they could have traveled to those locations and making them aware of this current situation that we're dealing with.

SAM MACIAG: Thank you.

LOGAN STEIN: Logan Stein of CJME News. Is this-- maybe it is a little too early to determine, but is this the largest mass killing in Saskatchewan's history?

RHONDA BLACKMORE: I can't speak to that at this point in time. It is certainly a very significant event; if not the largest, certainly the largest we've seen in the last number of years. But it could very well be the most significant.

LOGAN STEIN: And earlier you had said 10 bodies in 13 different locations. Was that a slip? Or--

RHONDA BLACKMORE: No. So we have 10 confirmed deceased individuals. We have 13 active crime scenes that we are investigating. So at some of those crime scenes, there may not have been a deceased individual. There could have been injured individuals who were not deceased.

LOGAN STEIN: OK, thanks. Just hoping that you can give us a bit of an idea about communications the public may expect going forward. I know in these types of events, like we've already had a number of alerts. If the suspects are spotted elsewhere, are folks going to expect to receive another alert? Or how is that going to be managed? What should folks expect to see?

RHONDA BLACKMORE: Certainly. As we receive credible information that they may have been seen elsewhere, we will provide that information to the public just to, again, make people aware. The province of Saskatchewan is very large and having extended the alert to Manitoba and Alberta, that's a large geographical area. So if we do have reason to believe they're in a specific area, we would certainly communicate that information to the public.

LOGAN STEIN: And how would you communicate it? Will it be an alert? Will they check Twitter? How will they know?

RHONDA BLACKMORE: We would use the Saskatchewan alert system and put out that alert to be able to ensure that we've got that information to as many people as possible.

BRIANNE FOLEY: Brianne Foley, CTV News. I'm-- so at this point with the deceased and the injured, they all sustained the same type of injuries from the same type of weapon?

RHONDA BLACKMORE: At this point in time, we know that the initial calls were for victims of stabbings. The rest of the investigative pieces that are putting in-- being put into place right now will confirm if there were any additional injuries. But that's the information we have at this point in time.

BRIANNE FOLEY: And then from there trip from their starting point to Regina, have there been any indications of injuries closer to this area?

RHONDA BLACKMORE: We haven't received any information of that nature yet, no.

BRIANNE FOLEY: And then just one question for the chief. From the public, you were informed that on Arcola Avenue, that's where the vehicle was sighted. Which direction was it headed?

EVAN BRAY: We don't-- I don't have that information and I'm not sure that we were given that information. But I am going to reiterate, we still are operating with the belief that the suspects are in the city. And so it's with that that we're taking all of the steps that we have. I think another thing that's important and I'm going to reiterate what Assistant Commissioner Blackmore had said earlier, is it's very common in situations like this for people to have information.

I think it's safe to say someone knows potentially the whereabouts of these suspects. Someone knows information that might be helpful to police. And so this is a time where we are asking the public to reach out and help. And we are receiving that information that's coming in to the RCMP, to the Regina Police Service, through various means-- social media, different means.

But I don't think we can underscore the importance of that because that will really bring about the swift resolution of this situation.

BRIANNE FOLEY: And then given the crowd and the size of it and the amount of people downtown at the Riders game today, the extra forces are-- and-- are barricaded there, I guess?

EVAN BRAY: Yeah, we've got a lot of police resources that are dedicated to a typical Rider game. Today we have additional resources as a result of what's going on. There's-- we work very well with security, for example, inside the stadium. And so a lot of our efforts are around the stadium in the city itself and, of course, collaborating with the RCMP. Not all uniforms. Some of them are not in uniform. And we've got investigators working diligently on this as well.

BRIANNE FOLEY: Thank you.

- Sorry, I have a question here. And you said stabbing earlier. What kind of weapon were they stabbed with? Are we talking about a knife? Are we talking about something else, possibly?

RHONDA BLACKMORE: I don't have that information at this point in time. The calls came in that victims had been stabbed, when the calls came in to our DOCC.

- And is there any idea as to what kind of motivation people could have to carry out an attack like this? Does it look premeditated at all? Or--

RHONDA BLACKMORE: We don't have that information. It appears that some of the victims may have been targeted and some may be random. So to speak to a motive would be extremely difficult at this point in time. Our investigation will certainly focus on that aspect of it, though, as well.

- In my final question here, we talk about getting information from the public. How can we confirm that that is in fact reliable information and it's not just someone just texting in or calling in just to-- I don't know.

RHONDA BLACKMORE: Yeah. So that's the job of our investigators. And both the Regina Police Service and the RCMP have multiple investigators assigned to doing exactly that, confirming that information, ensuring that it is reliable information, taking all of those steps to ensure that we're giving the most recent, most accurate information to the public as quickly as possible.

- All right, thank you.

- You spoke about a few of the incidents potentially being targeted. I guess are you able to expand on that at all about why police might think that? Was there some relationship that you're aware of between the suspects and the victims? Or--

RHONDA BLACKMORE: I can't speak to that at this point in time. That's still part of the investigation. OK. Well, thank you so much for being here today.