Canada Stabbing Suspect Remains at Large After Police Manhunt at Reserve
JAMES SMITH CREE NATION, Saskatchewan — Two and a half days after a bloody campaign of stabbings in Canada left 10 people dead and the police conducting a manhunt that covered hundreds of miles, the case briefly appeared to have returned on Tuesday afternoon to the Indigenous reserve where it all started.
Police cruisers and unmarked trucks raced to the James Smith Cree Nation reserve in the western province of Saskatchewan, and residents were once again warned to take shelter. But hours later, the authorities released a discomfiting statement to a province on edge:
Myles Sanderson was still at large.
Mr. Sanderson, 30, is one of two brothers accused of carrying out the spree of violence that began on the reserve in the predawn hours of Sunday. Investigators found the body of his brother, Damien, 31, near a house on the reserve the next day, and said they were looking into whether Myles Sanderson had killed him.
In the aftermath of the attacks, which wounded an additional 18 people, the authorities began a search for the suspects that covered not just Saskatchewan but also its neighboring provinces. Many residents said they were shaken by the attacks, and some began taking security measures rarely seen in the generally placid communities.
Then, on Tuesday, tensions ratcheted up again when the police received a report that Mr. Sanderson may have been spotted back at the reserve.
In an emergency alert, the authorities asked people to shelter in place as a large number of officers sped toward the north side of the reserve, which covers about 27 square miles, converging around the Saskatchewan River. The buzzing sound of ATVs could be heard from the river valley.
At the home of one resident, Ivor Wayne Burns, young men stood guard outside, armed with .22-caliber rifles. Mr. Burns’s sister, Gloria Lydia Burns, 61, was among the people killed in the rampage.
Then came the all-clear from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
“After further investigation into the reports of possible sightings of Myles Sanderson on the James Smith Cree Nation,” they said in a statement at 3 p.m., “the Saskatchewan R.C.M.P. has determined that he is not located in the community. The R.C.M.P. continues to search for Myles Sanderson. As his whereabouts remain unknown, the emergency alert is active for the entire province and we continue to urge the public to take appropriate precautions.”
The police believe Mr. Sanderson may be injured.
With the motive for the attacks still unclear, or at least undisclosed, attention was fixed Tuesday on the surviving Sanderson brother — and more precisely on how he had managed to make his way back onto the street despite a long history of crime, much of it violent. In May, his image could be seen on a Crime Stoppers wanted poster.
It was just months earlier that Mr. Sanderson had been granted his freedom.
With 59 convictions for crimes that included aggravated assault, drunken driving and failing 28 times to comply with his bail conditions, he went before a Canadian parole board requesting to be released early from prison. At the time, he was serving a sentence of more than four years for assault with a weapon, assaulting an officer and robbery, among other crimes.
His parole officer argued against early release, pointing to Mr. Sanderson’s history of “deceit.” But in February, the parole board decided to release him, saying he “appeared to have been making good progress on reintegration,” citing his sobriety and efforts at anger management.
The details of his criminal record are outlined in a parole report.
In July 2017, Mr. Sanderson was accused of entering an ex-girlfriend’s home while she had friends over and threatening her, mentioning a gang, before throwing a cement block into a side window of her friend’s car.
Just days later, he threatened to murder an employee at a store on the reserve and burn down his home, the report says.
And in November of that year, Mr. Sanderson had threatened an unnamed accomplice with a gun, ordering him to rob a fast-food restaurant and fleeing with $150.
The next spring, Mr. Sanderson stabbed two men with a fork — he had been drinking with them — and then beat one of them until he was unconscious, according to the report. After the police tracked him down two months after that episode, he kicked an officer in the face and the head while being loaded into the back of a cruiser, the authorities say.
Records cited in the parole report say that Mr. Sanderson grew up witnessing domestic violence and that he began drinking and smoking marijuana when he was 12, and using cocaine at 14.
But at the parole hearing in February, he said he had stayed sober, gotten a job and sought out a therapist to work through his issues, according to the parole report. He said he wanted to break the cycle of violence that had plagued generations of his family.
Ian Austen reported from James Smith Cree Nation, Saskatchewan, Canada; Vjosa Isai from Toronto; and Yonette Joseph from Mexico City.