Damien Sanderson, one of the two suspects in a series of stabbings in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan, that left 10 dead and 15 injured, was found dead on the morning of September 5, according to local police.
In a press conference, Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Commanding Officer Assistant Commissioner Rhonda Blackmore said, “At 11.30 am a deceased male was located on the James Smith Cree Nation. At 1:17 pm., it was confirmed by Saskatchewan RCMP Forensic Investigation Section the deceased is wanted Damien Sanderson.”
“We can confirm he has visible injuries, not believed to be self-inflicted at this point.” Blackmore continued, “the exact cause of death will be determined in conjunction with the Saskatchewan Coroner’s Office with a date and time to be determined.”
Myles Sanderson, Damien’s brother was still at large, and may have sustained injuries. “We consider him armed and dangerous, do not approach him. If you know of his whereabouts, immediately call 911,” Blackmore said. Credit: Saskatchewan RCMP via Storyful
RHONDA BLACKMORE: Good afternoon. We have a brief but significant update for you this afternoon. At 11:30 AM, a deceased male was located on the James Smith Cree Nation. At 1:17 PM today, it was confirmed by Saskatchewan RCMP Forensic Investigation Section that the deceased is Damien Sanderson. His body was located outdoors in a heavily grassed area in proximity to a house that was being examined.
We can confirm he has visible injuries. These injuries are not believed to be self-inflicted at this point. The exact cause of death will be determined in conjunction with the Saskatchewan coroner's office with a date and time for that examination to be determined. Myles Sanderson, Damien's brother, may have sustained injuries. This has not been confirmed. But we do want the public to know this because there is a possibility he may seek medical attention.
Even if he is injured, it does not mean he is not still dangerous. Myles has a lengthy criminal record involving both persons and property crimes. Myles is facing three counts of first degree murder and is wanted. We consider him armed and dangerous. Do not approach him. If you know of his whereabouts, immediately call 911.
Our thoughts continue to go out to the families of the victims. This brings the count of this tragedy to 11 deceased persons, 19 injured, and 13 crime scenes. Thank you. And we'll now have Sergeant Susie read the statement in French.
- [SPEAKING FRENCH]
RHONDA BLACKMORE: OK, we'll now take questions if anyone has any questions. And I'd ask that to you step up to the microphone to ask those questions.
- Hi. Bill Graven from the Canadian Press. Since it doesn't appear that they were in Regina after all, assuming that they were up there all along, how does this impact your searching now? What's the next step?
RHONDA BLACKMORE: I'm going to have Chief Bray answer that because some of the information has changed but not all. We still have some relevant information.
EVAN BRAY: Yeah. Thanks for the question. I think, you know, the most important thing to say is the information that we received yesterday about that vehicle being in the city with two people in the vehicle that matched the description is still relevant and believed to be true information. So I think-- you know, we're quite confident in those facts. We've been doing investigations based on that, and investigative work has corroborated some of those points.
So as far as the ongoing investigation goes, we are still operating under the impression that Myles is in the city of Regina. It's unknown at this time who the other person in the vehicle was if that was indeed Myles that was in there. The person that provided that initial information to us obviously was not able to say definitively who the people were in the car, but that it was that car and that there were two people in it, and further investigative efforts have corroborated much of that story. So we are still operating under the impression that Myles is in this community, and our efforts will continue working with the RCMP.
You know, as we've said before, that information is now dated, and we haven't had any updates from it. So is it possible that they're no longer in this community? It is possible, but we don't have any information to disprove or point us either way on that.
- And just to follow up. I'm thinking it's not wrong to assume that you believe that Myles is a suspect in the death of Damien.
RHONDA BLACKMORE: We haven't confirmed that. We can't say one way or the other if Myles was involved in the death of Damien. It is an investigative Avenue that we are following up on, but we can't say that definitively at this point in time.
ALEC SALLOUM: Alex Salloum Regina Leader-Post. I guess the question that I have here relates to the 19 injured. How many are in critical condition? We've seen obviously go from 10 now to 11. Is there an expectation that the fatalities are going to grow? Can you speak to the state of the 19 injured people?
RHONDA BLACKMORE: I can't speak to the medical condition of any of the persons who were injured, but we do-- we can confirm that there are 19 persons who were injured as a result of these attacks.
ALEC SALLOUM: But you can't say if anybody is in critical condition.
RHONDA BLACKMORE: At this point in time, no.
ALEC SALLOUM: OK. Question for police chief Bray. Again, the information continues to change. Obviously, the assumption was that both these men were in the city this-- as of yesterday at noon. We're going off of information about the whereabouts of these people that was at one point a day old. I'm going to ask this again, how confident are you that Myles is in Regina right now, and why are you confident that he is?
EVAN BRAY: Well, I think the most recent reliable information we have says that he is in Regina or was in Regina. The most recent. That most recent information is a day old. We acknowledge that, but we have nothing that can tell us differently. And so we're going to continue to operate on that.
You know, keep in mind this is eyewitness information that provided details on seeing the car, confirming the plate. There was follow-up investigation that was done there. But there's a lot of ongoing investigation that's happening by both the RCMP and the Regina police service, and we are very confident that Myles was in the city yesterday. Up until two hours ago, we assumed that it was both of them. But having said that, we are confident that there were two people in that vehicle. And so, at this point, we don't know who else was in the vehicle.
ALEC SALLOUM: Have you found the vehicle?
EVAN BRAY: We have not located the vehicle.
- Hi there. Shane [INAUDIBLE] News. I just want to know what's the message to people right now of a James Smith Cree Nation. Obviously one of the suspects we just found dead there is still a pretty large threat to that community. What's policing like, and I guess, what is the situation going on right there right now?
RHONDA BLACKMORE: We have a significant presence of police officers at James Smith Cree Nation. As you can imagine, it takes a significant amount of resources to process 13 crime scenes. So there is a large police presence there that will continue for several days, many days yet.
As far as the threat, Myles Sanderson is still at large. We still are advocating for people to be vigilant to remain vigilant. He is considered dangerous. His actions have shown that he is violent, and so we're continuing to emphasize for people to remain vigilant those James Smith Cree Nation and the province of Saskatchewan, and our neighboring provinces.
- And this next question is for Constable Bray. How and where do you even begin to describe a situation like this that's happening in Regina? I mean, this must be, at least for the public, this seems like a needle in a haystack, kind of.
EVAN BRAY: Yeah, and, you know, I think I've said this a couple of times before. We have hundreds of resources between the RCMP and the Regina police service working on this, and we're really coming at it from all angles. So there's not one-- there's a lot of different ways to investigate this. And, you know, it's challenging because if you hear the feedback from the community or read social media, there's assumptions being made that certain things aren't being done.
I can tell you with definitive assurance that tech crimes are involved in this. We have our investigative crimes involved in this. We have various different areas within our investigative services uniformed. We've got emergency services teams not just with our police service but with the RCMP air support is here thanks to the RCMP and neighboring provinces.
So there's a lot of efforts being put into this. And those efforts are not just within the city of Regina. Those include traffic services out on the highway. Those include working in communities with the RCMP. So from an investigative standpoint, you're right, we don't have any one specific area that we can focus in on and start going down that path to determine whether or not we might actually be able to locate Myles.
Having said that, we do investigate every tip that comes in, every piece of information. And we reiterate once again the importance of getting this information in here. There are people that possess knowledge about Myles where he is. About information that occurred over the last 24 to 48 hours that is going to be very, very important to this investigation.
So, once again, we reiterate to the community. We need to hear from you. Please reach out to the police or reach out to an organization that can get information to the police and provide us with what ultimately could be the missing piece to help tie this up and ultimately take Myles safely into custody. And allow not only the investigation to continue, but I think as importantly, we recognize there's a lot of grief with tragedy like this and you unknown whereabouts.
There's a lot of anxiety in our province right now in our communities and throughout the country. And so, you know, we need to start the healing process. And until we can make this arrest, that isn't going to happen.
HEATHER BUTTS: Hi. Heather Batts with CTV National News. I'm just wondering if you could expand on the injuries that you believe Myles sustained. What is it that has led you to believe that, and just if you could confirm that he is now one of the 19 injured that you're counting?
RHONDA BLACKMORE: He is one of the 11 deceased that we're count--
HEATHER BUTTS: Sorry--
RHONDA BLACKMORE: I'm sorry, Myles. You said-- oh, sorry, Myles.
HEATHER BUTTS: Correct.
RHONDA BLACKMORE: Yes. So his injuries-- we can't confirm those injuries, but we do have strong reason to believe that he has sustained some injuries. We're not exactly sure what those injuries are.
HEATHER BUTTS: And he's one of the 19 that you're now counting?
RHONDA BLACKMORE: Yes. Yes.
TEAGAN RASCHE: I'm Teagan Rasche with GlobalNews. Have you been able to think of what the possible motive could be for this?
RHONDA BLACKMORE: That's still part of the investigation that will be ongoing for quite some time. We haven't established a motive at this point in time, but it is definitely part of the investigation.
TEAGAN RASCHE: And he-- oh, Myles could obviously be anywhere. Is there a concern he could try and flee to the United States?
RHONDA BLACKMORE: We have made notification to Canadian Border Services Agency, so they are aware of his wanted status. And any identification he would provide would indicate on police record checks that he is-- there's a warrant for his arrest.
BRIANNE FOLEY: Brianne Foley CTV Regina. You did say that some of the attacks were known, and some of them were random. Would we classify Damian as one of the known ones at this point?
RHONDA BLACKMORE: At this point in time, yes. Prior to us having located Damien's body, there were other persons who we believe were targeted in these attacks.
BRIANNE FOLEY: And do you know how many were targeted and how many were random at this point?
RHONDA BLACKMORE: I can't say that for certain. No.
BRIANNE FOLEY: Perfect. And then, is there aerial searches going on, and if so, where?
RHONDA BLACKMORE: Yes. There are continuing aerial searches. We have multiple surveillance aircraft that are here in the province assisting us and conducting those searches in the areas that are designated as required by the investigative teams.
BRIANNE FOLEY: And still no word on the exact weapon that was used.
RHONDA BLACKMORE: No. No.
JADE MACMILLAN: Hi. Jade Macmillan Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Are you able to provide any information at this point in time on the people who have lost their lives? Anything about their ages, genders, where they've come from? Anything like that?
RHONDA BLACKMORE: The only information we know is that there were no children or infants attacked that we're aware of. The ages are older than that. There is a wide span of ages of these individuals. Both males and females were victims of the attack.
JADE MACMILLAN: I think there was one report that suggested there was a 14-year-old boy. Are you saying that is not correct or what is the age cut-off there?
RHONDA BLACKMORE: I believe the youngest age is a person who was born in 1999.
JADE MACMILLAN: Thank you.
JOHN CAIRNS: John Cairns, SaskToday. I'm just curious if you have any updated photos of Myles that you'd be able to share with the public? I know that there's been, on social media, there have been photos of Myles that have been shared out there, and just wondering if you're planning to do the same fairly soon.
RHONDA BLACKMORE: The investigative team is working on that right now to determine if an updated photo would better reflect his current-- what he looks like now. Keeping in mind, he may also have injuries as well.
JOHN CAIRNS: OK. Thank you.
- Sorry. Just to clarify something. Were you saying that Damien was one of the people that was targeted by Myles? I just want to clarify a question that was answered earlier.
RHONDA BLACKMORE: We can't say for sure how Damien came to be deceased. But he could potentially have been. We can't say that for certain.
GARETH DILLISTONE: Hi. I'm Gareth Dillistone, CTV Regina. In your experience in decades of policing, I mean, here we are having a news conference on a Monday, a statutory holiday. We had the Regina police chief, the Assistant Commissioner for F division. You're in the building, you're wearing your duty belts. How big of a crisis is this from a law enforcement point of view in your experience?
RHONDA BLACKMORE: This is a significant event to the province of Saskatchewan. I don't think anyone would dispute that. You know we have a significant number of deceased individuals, and it is something that has been made our highest priority. From myself and chief Bray right on through down to our front line members, we are working extremely hard to apprehend Myles and, as well, to process the crime scenes and make sure that the families have the information that they are seeking and need. So there are certainly a lot of different avenues to this situation.
GARETH DILLISTONE: Thank you, ma'am.
- Were they brothers or cousins? Is there any relationship that you can disclose at this point?
RHONDA BLACKMORE: We have been able to confirm that Damian Sanderson and Myles Sanderson are brothers.
- The other thing. Yesterday during the press conference, you weren't able to share details about their criminal record if the pictures shared were mug shots. Myles has been unlawfully at large since May 27th. I guess why wasn't that communicated earlier to the public, and why wasn't that communicated specifically yesterday during a media availability when we were all here?
RHONDA BLACKMORE: Right. So we're gathering more information. We have been able to confirm Myles criminal record. He does have an extensive and lengthy criminal record. The information yesterday that was important for us to get out was the fact that he was a dangerous and violent offender. Having committed first-degree murder is indicative of that, obviously. So that was the priority for our information-- to get that information out to the public.
- But he was known to police.
RHONDA BLACKMORE: Definitely. Known to police, yes.
- Do you know if the two people who were going out yesterday on the killing spree if they were attacking each other at the same time, or victims at the same time or did they kind of separate and go their own ways?
RHONDA BLACKMORE: We can't speak to that at this point in time. That's part of the investigation. The investigative team is putting together the chronology of how the events unfolded. Because as you can appreciate, as the calls came in to our operations center, that doesn't necessarily mean how those victims were attacked in that order. So that's all part of the investigative process as they put that together.
- Are you able to describe Damien's wounds? You just said that he was injured and found deceased?
RHONDA BLACKMORE: At this point in time, I can't speak to that at this-- right now.
- OK, and you have said that this was a stabbing. It's being talked about, as you know, one of the biggest mass murders in Canada. It's different because it's a stabbing. Are you able to say if all 10 victims prior to Damien's death were stab wounds?
RHONDA BLACKMORE: We believe the victims were stabbed, but that is still being confirmed at this point in time to make sure that we have confirmation of that. But that is our belief at this point in time. Yes.
- And given the fact that he was found on the first nation, you believe Myles maybe in that area. How wide is your search net right now? What are you telling people of the province and neighboring provinces?
RHONDA BLACKMORE: So right now, we can't-- similar to what Chief Bray said, we can't eliminate anything. And so the information we had yesterday with the witness account that he-- they we believed they at that time now we believe to be Myles was in the city of Regina was the last credible information we have. But we can't discount any of those investigative avenues. So we're making sure that we're keeping our investigative possibilities open because we certainly don't want to be limited in our view of this.
- One more question.
- Um, you were anticipating information on the victims. At what time can we anticipate that today?
RHONDA BLACKMORE: We're still waiting to get confirmation from the family members. So I don't have a specific time for you, but hopefully, we can have that later today or tomorrow for you.
- I guess, chief Bray, as people are getting ready to send their kids to school tomorrow, as people are getting ready to go back to work tomorrow, what message do you have for people in Regina as this manhunt continues and as we have very little information about where this guy might be outside of knowing that he is violent and has frequently killed in the recent dates?
EVAN BRAY: So I'll start by saying we have a large number of resources on this, and we will continue to have those resources working on this until we either locate and safely arrest Myles or prove that he is no longer in this community. And that's something that we're working on constantly with the RCMP. You know, obviously, yesterday we had a very large event in the city with the Ryder game. Thousands of people in the city.
And so we took steps to ensure that we had extra resources to enhance safety. I think a big part of it is communication and continuing to communicate with the public, and we will continue to do that as well. Any new developments that come, any changes that may happen over the next few hours between now and tomorrow. At the end of the day, as we've been talking about and you brought up earlier, this is the most recent credible information we have, but it's also quite stale. And so we can't say for certain that he is still in the community but we're operating as if he is.
And so we will continue to exercise safety and diligence. We encourage people to be aware and report anything that seems suspicious or out of the ordinary. Again, you know, people understand, people know their surroundings better than anyone. And so, oftentimes, it's not as simple as the police coming in and doing searches in neighborhoods or in areas but if people see something that's disturbed.
We had a call the other night. A person called us to say, you know, I haven't used my garage in a long time, but I noticed that some stuff has been moved and I think someone's opened the door in the garage. That's a very pertinent piece of information. Turned out to be not related to this incident but anything like that that people notice they should report. We will investigate, and I think that's what's going to be successful in resolving this.
- But for a nervous parent putting their kid on a bus tomorrow, how concerned should they be?
EVAN BRAY: Well, I mean, I think at this point, we have no information to lead us to believe that there is an imminent threat right now to anyone or any one person in this city. But we recognize we have not arrested this individual. The information is old albeit the most recent we have that he was in this community.
And so, I would encourage parents to exercise diligence and caution making judgment statements on those types of things. There's a fine line between making sure that we're diligent in reporting information and giving people all of the information they need and giving you know, what I would say a false sense of worry in terms of the situation and the danger that's present in the community. So as we continue to gather information, as we continue to investigate this, we'll continue to communicate with our community on that and hopefully be able to provide some positive information between now and tomorrow morning.
- Can you give any detail on Myles's lengthy record? Like what he, was it's been convicted of.
RHONDA BLACKMORE: Myles record dates back quite a number of years. And it includes both property and persons crimes. So person's crimes are those committed against other individuals obviously, property crimes involved theft or damage to property.
- So some violence--
RHONDA BLACKMORE: Yes.
- --in the persons crimes?
RHONDA BLACKMORE: Yes.
RHONDA BLACKMORE: I don't believe there's anything on his record for previous homicide. That is what he is currently wanted for is for first-degree murder, though.
- Can you speak to the fact that he has been missing since May? Has not been found. There's reports that he may have taken an ankle bracelet off. Is that alarming?
RHONDA BLACKMORE: I can't speak to any of the measures, such as the ankle bracelet. There were warrants for his arrest. But I can tell you there are many individuals in this province who have warrants for arrest. So we do have a specialized team, we have the warrant enforcement suppression team. That is their focus that was as a result of resources provided to the RCMP by the province of Saskatchewan last fall.
So that team is up and running as of the last few months. And that is their focus. But given the number of people on warrant status in the province, you know, they have to risk manage files as they come into their acknowledgment.
- If there is an update tonight, how can we expect it?
- It will depend on what the update is. If it's related to the emergency alert and updates to that, you can call through the emergency alerting system. Any media [INAUDIBLE]
- A pleasure. Thank you very much, everyone.
- Thank you.
- Thank you.
- Thank you.
- You want to do some dinner while here?
- Give me a call?
- You got my nu-- you got my contact? OK. Good.
- Excuse me.
- Thank you.