A former Mountie says the vast open spaces of the Prairies could complicate the manhunt for one of the suspects in Sunday’s deadly stabbing rampage in Saskatchewan.
“This is a huge area, and there’s a whole lot of nothing,” said retired RCMP officer Sherry Benson-Podolchuk. “There’s a lot of places people can hide.”
Her comments come as police continue to search for 30-year-old Myles Sanderson. Police say he may be injured, is considered dangerous and should not be approached.
The body of the other suspect in the attacks, 31-year-old Damien Sanderson, was discovered outdoors in a grassy area on the James Smith Cree Nation on Monday, not far from one of the crime scenes. Police have said Myles and Damien Sanderson were brothers.
Officials have said people were hurt or killed at 13 scenes around James Smith Cree Nation and the nearby village of Weldon.
“If something terrible happens in a city, they’d create a perimeter close to the crime scene, but then also they would go out, out, out and guard all exits to the city,” Benson-Podolchuk said. “This case is a little different because they have all those crime scenes.”
Since Sunday morning, police have been scouring Regina after a report the two suspects had been seen in the city, and Regina Police Chief Evan Bray says the search for Myles Sanderson will continue until he is located.
Benson-Podolchuk noted that the emergency alert extends into Alberta and Manitoba, indicating that police are searching “wide and far” and monitoring roads going into and out of those provinces.
“Suspects aren’t going to go on the (main) roads. If they can take a side road or a gravel road or a dirt road somewhere, they will do that,” Benson-Podolchuk said.
Other variables: they could have swapped vehicles, someone could be helping them hide out, or they could have separated, she said.
“Those are all the balls in the air that you got to think about when you’re doing a massive manhunt like this,” Benson-Podolchuk said. “They can hide their vehicles, they can hide themselves. And depending if they have a food source, they can last a long time.”
Leaders of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations have issued an urgent appeal to find Myles Sanderson, begging those with knowledge of his whereabouts to come forward to help end the tragedy without any more loss of life.
Parole documents show Myles Sanderson has a nearly two-decade long criminal record and a propensity for violence when intoxicated.
“Your criminal history is very concerning, including the use of violence and weapons related to your index offences, and your history of domestic violence,” said the document obtained by The Canadian Press.
Sanderson received statutory release from prison in August 2021, but it was revoked about four months later because the board said he failed to communicate with his parole supervisor.
In the document, the board said it decided to reinstate his statutory release with a reprimand, and said Sanderson “will not present an undue risk to society.”
RCMP have said 10 men and women were killed and 18 were injured in the attacks, not including the suspects.
The Mounties have not said what motivated the attacks. Police believe some victims were targeted but others were chosen at random.
People in the region have rallied around the victims and the communities affected.
An online fundraising effort has been launched for victims and their families in James Smith Cree Nation. It had raised more than $92,000 as of Tuesday morning.
A community garden organization near Prince Albert posted on social media that it is sending produce to the First Nation for wakes and other gatherings in the days ahead.
“We will be cleaning carrots, cucumbers and potatoes to send for the wakes. If you can help pick, peel or cut we will need a few extra hands please,” read the post on Jessy’s Garden Facebook page.
In nearby Melfort, Sask., on Monday night, the Mustangs Junior A hockey team held a moment of silence for the victims ahead of their pre-season game against the Nipawin Hawks.