(AP) — Canadian police searched on Monday for two men suspected of stabbing 10 people to death in an Indigenous community and a nearby town, as the massive manhunt following one of the nation’s deadliest mass killings entered its second day.
Authorities have said some of the victims were targeted and others appeared to have been chosen at random in a series of attacks on the James Smith Cree Nation and in the town of Weldon in Saskatchewan province. They have given no motive for the crimes, which also left 15 people wounded — but a senior Indigenous leader suggested drugs were somehow involved.
Police believe the suspects were last spotted around midday on Sunday in the provincial capital of Regina, about 335 kilometres (210 miles) south of where the stabbings happened. Authorities have issued warnings for Manitoba and Alberta — provinces on either side of Saskatchewan — to also be on alert, and US border officials have been contacted. With the suspects at large, terror gripped many communities.
“No one in this town is ever going to sleep again. They’re going to be terrified to open their door,” said Weldon resident Ruby Works, who was close to one of the victims.
The suspects were identified as Damien Sanderson, 31, and Myles Sanderson, 30, but police gave few details about them. Last May, Saskatchewan Crime Stoppers issued a wanted list that included Myles Sanderson, writing that he was “unlawfully at large.”
The attack was among the deadliest mass killings in Canada, where such crimes are less common than in the United States. 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. In 2019, a man used a van to kill 10 pedestrians in Toronto.
Deadly mass stabbings are rarer 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.
“It is horrific what has occurred in our province,” said Rhonda Blackmore, assistant commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Saskatchewan.
Police got their first call about a stabbing at 5:40 a.m. on Sunday, and within minutes heard about several more. In all, dead or wounded people were found at 13 different locations on the sparsely populated reserve and in the town, Blackmore said. James Smith Cree Nation is about 30 kilometres (20 miles) from Weldon.
She couldn’t provide a motive, but the chief of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations suggested the stabbings could be drug-related.
“This is the destruction we face when harmful illegal drugs invade our communities, and we demand all authorities to take direction from the chiefs and councils and their membership to create safer and healthier communities for our people,” said Chief Bobby Cameron.
As the manhunt stretched on while Canadians observed the Labour Day holiday, Regina Police Chief Evan Bray urged anyone with information to come forward.