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2nd suspect in fatal Canada stabbing spree dies after being taken into custody

“This evening, our province is breathing a collective sigh of relief,” an official said.

The second of two men accused of fatally stabbing 10 people in and around an Indigenous community of Saskatchewan died Wednesday after he was taken into custody, Canadian authorities said.

Myles Sanderson, 32, "went into medical distress" and was pronounced dead at a hospital in Saskatoon after authorities forced a truck that he had apparently stolen off the road, Rhonda Blackmore, a commanding officer with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, told reporters.

His cause of death wasn't immediately clear. He and Damien Sanderson, his brother, are accused in the violent weekend spree.

“This evening, our province is breathing a collective sigh of relief,” Blackmore said.

A homeowner on Wednesday reported seeing Sanderson armed with a knife standing outside his home in the Wakaw area, Blackmore said. The homeowner, who wasn't injured, told authorities that Sanderson took off in his Chevy Avalanche.

Image:
Police and investigators gather at the scene where a stabbing suspect was arrested in Rosthern, Saskatchewan, on Wednesday.Heywood Yu / The Canadian Press via AP

An hour and a half later, at 3:30 p.m., officers spotted the truck topping 90 mph on a highway and pursued it, Blackmore said. After they forced it into a ditch, officers surrounded the vehicle and arrested Myles Sanderson.

He was alone, and it wasn't clear where he was headed, Blackmore said. After he showed signs of distress, officers administered lifesaving measures, and an ambulance took him to the hospital.

Officers found a knife and no drugs in an initial search of the truck, she said.

It still wasn't clear what might have led brothers Myles and Damien Sanderson, 31, to go on the violent spree that unfolded Sunday morning on the James Smith Cree Nation and in the town of Weldon. The James Smith Cree Nation is about 200 miles north of the provincial capital, Regina.

The series of knife attacks appeared to include both targeted victims and random people, officials said.

Investigators had conducted 120 interviews since the stabbings, but "witnesses and people around him only have so much information," Blackmore said, referring to Myles Sanderson.

"His motivation may at this time and forever only be known to Myles," she said.

Damien Sanderson was found dead on the James Smith Cree Nation at 11:30 a.m. Monday with visible injuries that aren't believed to have been self-inflicted, police said.

In addition to the 10 slayings, Myles and Damien Sanderson are suspected of injuring 18 people at 13 crime scenes.

Saskatchewan police got their first of several stabbing reports at about 5:40 a.m. Sunday, and by 7:12 a.m. authorities had the names of their suspects.

The stabbing spree happened just months after a parole board released Myles Sanderson from a four-year sentence for assault and robbery. Myles Sanderson, who had 59 previous convictions, was granted release in February, and by May, he was being sought by officials for violating the terms of his release.

Court records indicate that seven years ago, Myles Sanderson attacked and stabbed one of the victims who was killed in the weekend rampage.

Safety officials said they will look into the parole board's decision to release Myles Sanderson.

“I want to know the reasons behind the decision” to release him, Canadian Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said. “I’m extremely concerned with what occurred here. A community has been left reeling.”

The Saskatchewan slayings have shaken all of Canada, where violent crime is relatively rare.

There were about 750 homicides in Canada in 2020, a nation of about 38 million people.

That's in stark contrast to the U.S., with nearly nine times the population, where there were more than 21,500 homicides in 2020, according to the FBI.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he has been in close contact with Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe and James Smith Cree Nation leaders during the crisis.

"I let them know our government is ready to assist in any way we can, and that we’re here to support the people of Saskatchewan during this difficult time," he said in a statement Monday.