Police on Wednesday widened their search for the second suspect in a deadly stabbing spree in western Canada, as a shattered Indigenous community ventured out of lockdown to mourn its dead.
The Sunday attack in the James Smith Cree Nation Indigenous community and the town of Weldon – the motive for which remains unknown – killed 10 people and wounded 18.
A manhunt for two brothers believed to be responsible for one of the worst incidents of mass violence in Canada has taken police from the remote Indigenous community across a vast Prairies region, to Saskatchewan province’s capital Regina 300 kilometers (185 miles) to the south, and back.
It turned up the body of one of the brothers, 31-year-old Damien Sanderson, on Monday in a grassy field in the Cree community. Authorities said he very likely had been killed by his fugitive sibling, Myles Sanderson, 32.
The community locked down late Tuesday after reports of a possible sighting of the older Sanderson, as police in heavily armed vehicles and a helicopter swooped in.
But it was soon lifted after police said a search came up empty.
“Further investigation has determined that Myles Sanderson is not located in the community of James Smith Cree Nation and the RCMP continues to search for him,” the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said in an alert.
“As his whereabouts remain unknown, we urge the public to take appropriate precautions,” it added.
Regina police Chief Evan Bray said in a video address that a “reliable” tip led them to believe Myles Sanderson may have been hiding in that city.
But by Tuesday, new information contradicted that assessment.
“We’ve received (new) information that is leading us to believe he may no longer be in this community,” Bray said Tuesday evening.
“As a result, investigations continue and although we don’t know his whereabouts, we are still looking not only within the city of Regina, but expanded into the province as well.”
Six men, four women killed
Several vigils were scheduled Wednesday evening.
The Saskatchewan Coroner’s Service has released the names of the deceased victims – six men and four women aged 23 to 78 years old.
All but one were members of the Cree community. The other was a widower who lived with his adult grandson in Weldon.
Those wounded in the attack were seventeen adults and one young teen, federal police said.
Several of the deceased victims had previously been identified by families and friends on social media, including a veteran, an addiction counselor, and a mother of two who worked as a security guard at a local casino.
“I lost a lot of family yesterday, bodies everywhere on rez, some deceased and many others with severe knife wounds and bleeding,” Michael Brett Burns posted on Facebook.
“It was a war zone. The look in their eyes couldn’t express the pain and suffering for those who were assaulted,” he said.
Dillon Burns said in another post that his mother Gloria died tragically “protecting a young man while he was being attacked,” adding that “she would’ve done the same for any of us… (even) for the man who has taken her life.”
She was found “lying in her driveway” with two others, her brother Ivor Burns told local broadcasters. “They were massacred.”
Police believe some of the victims were targeted and others were attacked randomly.
Ten people – some of whom had been airlifted on Sunday – remain hospitalized, including three in critical condition, according the Saskatchewan Health Authority. Seven others have been discharged.