The suspects in Sunday’s attacks, 31-year-old Damien Sanderson and 30-year-old Myles Sanderson, were charged Monday with murder. The men allegedly attacked with a stabbing weapon at 13 different locations in a rural area northeast of the city of Saskatoon in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan. The finding of the dead body of one of the suspects raised the death toll from ten to eleven, and the attacks left another 19 injured, Reuters noted.
The attacks are among the most tragic in modern Canadian history. Their motive is unknown, however, representatives of the indigenous communities speak of a “drug connection”. “This is the devastating consequence of harmful illegal drugs disrupting our communities,” said the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations, which represents 74 Indigenous communities in Saskatchewan. According to the police, the perpetrators chose some of the victims purposefully, others apparently by accident.
“I want to tell the people of Saskatchewan and beyond to be assured that we are using all the human, investigative and technological resources at our disposal to find and apprehend those responsible for this tragedy and to ensure your safety,” said Rhonda Blackmore, Cmdr. Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) in the province of Saskatchewan. According to her, hundreds of police officers and other persons are involved in the investigation.
The accused were last seen on Sunday driving a black Nissan Rogue in the city of Regina, which is about 320 kilometers south of the site of the attacks in the James Smith Cree Nation and the village of Weldon, police added. “We are sure there is someone out there who knows the whereabouts of these two men and has information that will be of great value to the police. We encourage you to contact your local police,” said Regina Police Chief Evan Bray.
Series of attacks in Canada: Police launched a large-scale manhunt for the perpetrators of ten murders. Think of cover, he warns
Among the first victims to be identified are a mother of two children, a 77-year-old widower and a 14-year-old boy. Just hours before the attack, Lana Head, a mother of two daughters, wrote in a Facebook post that she had “so many great memories to cherish”. Friends and family were shocked by her death and expressed their condolences on social networks, among other things. Her ex-partner also spoke to local media and also suggested that the attack could be drug and alcohol related. “It’s crazy how prison, drugs and alcohol can destroy so many lives,” Michaél Brett Burns said in an interview with the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network.
“Ten people died, including my sister. She was massacred… along with another friend and a 14-year-old boy. All three died,” said Ivor Burns, whose sister Gloria is also among the dead. Meanwhile, Gloria arrived at the scene of the tragedy to help. She responded to an emergency call but found herself alone in the middle of the violence, her sister Darryl Burns said.
Residents of the village of Weldon identified one of the victims as 77-year-old widower Wes Petterson. “He was a wonderful man,” 89-year-old neighbor Doreen Lees recalled.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responded to the attacks: “This kind of violence, or any violence, has no place in our country.” As he noted, “unfortunately, similar tragedies have become more frequent in recent years.”