Mounties in Saskatchewan reported a possible sighting Tuesday of a suspect in a mass stabbing in and around the James Smith Cree.
A notice sent through Saskatchewan’s emergency alert system said investigators received a report that Myles Sanderson had been seen in the First Nation community, and advised residents in the area to seek shelter.
“Do not leave a secure location. Do not approach suspicious persons,” the alert read.
Myles Sanderson is one of the accused in a deadly series of stabbings that happened northeast of Saskatoon, in James Smith Cree Nation and the nearby village of Weldon, over the weekend.
RCMP have said his brother, Damien Sanderson, 31, who had also been a suspect, was found dead Monday in a grassy area not far from one of the crime scenes. They said his injuries were not believed to be self-inflicted.
RCMP have said 10 men and women were killed, and 18 were injured in the attacks, not including the suspects.
Police had been searching a wide area, with alerts issued in Manitoba and Alberta as well. In Regina, a three-hour drive south of James Smith Cree Nation, police reported a possible sighting on the weekend of a vehicle the pair had driven.
The broad search area left communities on edge.
Piapot First Nation, 45 kilometres northeast of Regina, urged residents to be vigilant.
“Do not let strangers inside your homes or answer the door for anyone you do not know. Please keep all windows and doors locked,” community leaders wrote in a safety notice posted online Tuesday.
Leaders of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations issued an appeal to find Myles Sanderson, begging those with knowledge of his whereabouts to come forward to help end the manhunt without any more loss of life.
A former Mountie said the vast open spaces of the Prairies could complicate any manhunt.
“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.”
Benson-Podolchuk noted that police are monitoring roads going into and out of adjacent 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 are that 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.”
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.”
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 begun 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.