Saskatchewan: Myles Sanderson, a suspect in one of Canada’s deadliest mass murders, was killed after a high-speed chase on a prairie highway on Wednesday afternoon, about 130 kilometres from the attack’s site. As a result, the four-day manhunt for him came to an end.
According to the RCMP, Mr. Sanderson was taken into custody near Rosthern, Saskatchewan, at about 3:30 p.m. Since Sunday morning, police have been looking for him.
RCMP Assistant Commissioner Rhonda Blackmore says Mr. Sanderson experienced medical distress shortly after being taken into custody. Police contacted emergency medical services, and he was taken to a hospital in Saskatoon, where he was later declared.
Assistant Commissioner Blackmore says, “Our province is breathing a collective sigh of relief as Myles Sanderson is no longer at large. I can confirm that he is no longer a threat, and there is no risk to the public related to this investigation.”
Ten people were killed, while 18 others were hurt in the stabbing spree. Concerning the attacks, Damien Sanderson, Mr. Sanderson’s brother, was also wanted, but he was discovered dead on Monday. He was found along with one of the deceased victims on the James Smith Cree Nation, a small settlement roughly 300 kilometres north of Regina. According to RCMP and court records, both brothers were First Nation people. The final victim’s body was discovered in the neighbouring town of Weldon.
The RCMP accused Myles Sanderson of three first-degree murders earlier this week. His brother’s death is one of the numerous deaths for which he is allegedly responsible.
At 2:07 p.m., the police got a 911 call. On Wednesday, there was a break-in near Wakaw. The caller thought the perpetrator was Mr. Sanderson, who was openly carrying a knife and waiting outside a house. However, assistant Commissioner Blackmore claimed that Mr. Sanderson escaped in a stolen white Chevrolet Avalanche. The homeowner was not hurt physically, and when the RCMP issued an emergency notice, more than 20 calls with possible sightings of the Avalanche were received.
An RCMP Rosthern officer spotted the vehicle travelling at 150 kph per hour. Assistant Commissioner Blackmore says, “The speed he was driving is indicative of someone who was … just desperate to escape wherever he was at that point in time.”
When Mr. Sanderson drove the car off Highway 11 and into a large, green ditch that parallels the adjacent CP Rail rails, the search ended just south of Rosthern. The vehicle stayed in the ditch with its doors flung wide open for hours following the original incident while RCMP SUVs sat blocking the roadway with their lights blazing.
The Saskatchewan Serious Incident Response Team members visited the scene. When someone sustains a major injury or dies in police custody or due to an officer’s actions, SIRT, an independent body, investigates the occurrence.
Justin Naytowhow noticed southern traffic speeding up as he travelled north on Highway 11 near Prince Albert. The witness described it as a high-speed chase, including RCMP vehicles following a southbound Avalanche in the northbound lanes. According to Mr. Naytowhow, Mr. Sanderson was operating the Avalanche.
The Avalanche’s driver veered across the divided highway, according to Mr. Naytowhow. He crashed into the ditch on the opposite side when he lost control and jumped the road. At that point, the police arrested him.
Mr. Naytowhow says the Avalanche driver had both hands on the wheel, and no gunshots were heard in the immediate aftermath. In addition, he claimed to have seen military vehicles, ambulance workers, firefighters, and at least one helicopter.
The Avalanche was travelling south on Highway 11, according to Assistant Commissioner Blackmore, who did not specify if the suspect was driving on the wrong side of the divided road. However, she says that Mr. Sanderson was alone when detained. She said that although a preliminary check of the car had not turned up any narcotics, the investigation will continue.
She said the RCMP discovered a knife in the car.
The death of Mr. Sanderson and his brother may prevent police from establishing the crime motive, according to Assistant Commissioner Blackmore. However, although he was discovered dead close to one of the crime scenes on James Smith Cree Nation, Damien Sanderson is still seen to be a suspect in some of the homicides, she said.
Soon after Myles Sanderson was arrested, the James Smith Cree Nation Chief Wally Burns spoke at a candlelight vigil in Prince Albert. “We’re still in shock,” he said.
Chief Burns says the community must move forward while honouring the lives lost and realizing that the assaults will affect the present and future generations.
Several victims’ relatives showed up at the site following Mr. Sanderson’s arrest and thanked the RCMP. One of them was Brian Burns, whose son Gregory Burns and wife Bonnie Burns was killed in the assaults.
Burns says they can begin to heal as the manhunt ends, and it will bring peace to his other injured son.
Bonnie Burns’ and Gregory Burns’ family members have started an online fundraising effort in their honour to help Ms. Burns’ surviving children. Earlier, more than $120,000 was raised for the victims.
The uncertainty that had descended upon the village of Weldon while Mr. Sanderson was still at large started to fade Wednesday evening as word of his capture and death spread. More locals were observed in front of their homes.
Dave Barlow, a resident, said he was relieved but still had issues that required police to address. For example, “why did it take four days for them?” He also asked, “Why did they say he was in Regina”? It will be hard to find closure. He claimed that the search may have ended, but it won’t bring Mr. Petterson back.
Before this, the RCMP had focused their search for Mr. Sanderson in and around Regina.
According to court records, Mr. Sanderson has a nearly 20-year criminal history, including convictions for violent crimes, armed robberies, and other assaults. He had previously attacked two individuals with the same names as two of the stabbing victims, as well as other members of the James Smith Cree Nation.
He was in prison earlier this year, serving a four-year, four-month sentence for various offences, such as a violent incident at the residence of his domestic partner and kids.
Other offences include beating a man until he was rendered unconscious and repeatedly kicking a police officer in the face and top of the head. However, Mr. Sanderson was granted a statutory release at the end of his two-thirds term.
Statutory release is a way to reintroduce offenders into society under certain conditions designed to help them reintegrate into the community.
But this spring, the police put Mr. Sanderson on the wanted list after he ceased communicating with his parole officer.
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