A series of stabbings at an Indigenous community and at another town nearby in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan left 10 people dead and 15 wounded, Canadian police said Sunday as they searched for two suspects.
The stabbings took place in multiple locations on the James Smith Cree Nation and in the village of Weldon, northeast of Saskatoon, police said.
Rhonda Blackmore, the Assistant Commissioner of the RCMP Saskatchewan, said some of the victims appear to have been targeted by the suspects but others appear to have been attacked at random. She couldn’t provide a motive.
“It is horrific what has occurred in our province today,” Blackmore said, adding there were 13 crime scenes where either deceased or injured people were found.
It is among the deadliest mass killings in Canadian history. The deadliest gun rampage in Canadian history happened in 2020 when a man disguised as a police officer shot people in their homes and set fires across the province of Nova Scotia, killing 22 people. A man used a van to kill 10 pedestrians in Toronto in 2019. But mass killings are less common in Canada than in the United States.
Blackmore said police began receiving reports before 6 a.m. of stabbings on the First Nation community. More reports of attacks quickly followed and by midday police issued a warning that a vehicle reportedly carrying the two suspects had been spotted in Regina, about 335 kilometers (208 miles) south of the communities where the stabbings occurred.
Police said the last information they had from the public was that the suspects were sighted there around lunchtime. There have been no sightings since.
“If in the Regina area, take precautions & consider sheltering in place. Do not leave a secure location. DO NOT APPROACH suspicious persons. Do not pick up hitch hikers. Report suspicious persons, emergencies or info to 9-1-1. Do not disclose police locations,” the RCMP said in a message on Twitter.
Doreen Lees, an 89-year grandmother from Weldon, said she and her daughter thought they saw one of the suspects when a car came barreling down her street early in the morning as her daughter was having coffee on her deck. Lees said a man approached them and said he was hurt and needed help.
But Lees said the man took off and ran after her daughter said she would call for help.
“He wouldn’t show his face. He had a big jacket over his face. We asked his name and he kind of mumbled his name twice and we still couldn’t get it,” she said. “He said his face was injured so bad he couldn’t show it.”
She said the man was by himself and “kind of a little wobbly.”
“I followed him a little ways to see if he was going to be OK. My daughter said ‘Don’t follow him, get back here.’”
Weldon resident Diane Shier said she was in her garden Sunday morning when she noticed emergency crews a couple of blocks away.
Shier said her neighbor was killed. She did not want to identify the victim out of respect for his family.
“I am very upset because I lost a good neighbor,” she said.
The search for suspects was carried out as fans descended on Regina for a sold out annual Labor Day game between the Canadian Football League’s Saskatchewan Roughriders and Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
The Regina Police Service said in a news release that with the help of Mounties, it was working on several fronts to locate and arrest the suspects and had “deployed additional resources for public safety throughout the city, including the football game at Mosaic Stadium.″
The alert first issued by Melfort, Saskatchewan RCMP about 7 a.m. was extended hours later to cover Manitoba and Alberta, as the two suspects remained at large.
Damien Sanderson, 31, was described as five feet seven inches tall and 155 pounds, and Myles Sanderson, 30, as six-foot-one and 200 pounds. They may be driving a black vehicle.
Saskatchewan Crime Stoppers issued a wanted list last May that included Myles, writing that he was “unlawfully at large.”
The Saskatchewan Health Authority said multiple patients were being treated at several sites.
“A call for additional staff was issued to respond to the influx of casualties,” authority spokeswoman Anne Linemann said in an email.
Mark Oddan, a spokesman with STARS Air Ambulance, said two helicopters were dispatched from Saskatoon and another from Regina.
He said two carried patients to the Royal University Hospital in Saskatoon, while the third carried a patient to Royal University from a hospital in Melfort, a short distance southeast of Weldon.
“The attacks in Saskatchewan today are horrific and heartbreaking. I’m thinking of those who have lost a loved one and of those who were injured,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted.
James Smith Cree Nation declared a state of emergency.
Deadly mass stabbings are more rare than mass shootings but have happened around the world. In 2014, 29 people were slashed and stabbed to death at a train station in China’s southwestern city of Kunming. In 2016, a mass stabbing at a facility for the mentally disabled in Sagamihara, Japan, left 19 people dead. A year later, three men killed eight people in a vehicle and stabbing attack at London Bridge.