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Mark Arcand (right), brother of James Smith Cree Nation stabbing victim Bonnie Burns, and Brian (second right), husband of Bonnie, pause behind pictures of Bonnie during a news conference in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada on 7 September 2022. The killings in the remote community in Saskatchewan province in western Canada are among the deadliest incidents of mass violence to ever hit the nation. (Photo by Cole Burston, AFP, Getty)

Both Suspects in Canadian Mass Stabbing Attack Dead

Both suspects in a stabbing attack in the province of Saskatchewan, Canada, are dead. The stabbings left 10 people dead.

Brothers Myles and Damien Sanderson were suspected of committing several stabbings in 13 different locations throughout the indigenous James Smith Cree Nation community and Weldon, a rural village nearby. Investigators have not yet determined a motive in the attacks, although they have said that while some of the victims were singled out, others were picked at random.

The first stabbing was reported within the James Smith Cree Nation before 6:00 a.m. local time on Monday, 5 September. Additional calls to emergency responders were made soon after, reporting other stabbings in various locations.

A state of emergency was issued for the James Smith Cree Nation, according to BBC News. A dangerous person alert was also issued to all mobile phones registered in the provinces of Saskatchewan, Alberta, and Manitoba. 

It remains unknown whether the brothers executed the attacks simultaneously. Once they were identified as the suspects behind the stabbings, law enforcement initiated a manhunt for them.

Law enforcement has released the identities of the victims, nine of whom were from the indigenous community. The ages of the victims ranged from 23 to 78 years old with several of them sharing the familial name of Burns.

One of the victims, Lydia Gloria Burns, was a first responder to the crisis, according to her brother.

The stabbing attack also left 18 other people injured and authorities said they would not be releasing their identities.

One of the suspects, Damien Sanderson, was discovered dead on Tuesday with wounds that authorities say were not self-inflicted, but they have not determined if Myles Sanderson was involved in that death.

Myles Sanderson was arrested on Wednesday, 7 September. Royal Canadian Mounted Police had received a call on Wednesday afternoon, with witnesses reporting sightings of either Sanderson or the stolen truck he was driving. Emergency responders were called to attend to Sanderson, and he was taken to a hospital in Saskatoon, Canada, where he was pronounced dead after going into “medical distress.”  

An independent investigation will look into Myles Sanderson’s death and law enforcement’s response, according to the New York Times.

Prior to the stabbings and his own death, Myles Sanderson was the subject of arrest warrants. On 1 February 2022, he was granted a statutory release by the Canadian Parole Board. “The board said in the ruling that it didn’t believe Sanderson would present a risk to the public if released,” CNN reported. Sanderson was released into the community under direct supervision.

The use of edged weapons in mass attacks or terror incidents has been climbing in recent years—particularly because these weapons are so easy to obtain.

According to Joshua Sinai, professor of practice at Capital Technology University and a senior analyst at TorchStone Global, “There are numerous advantages for the perpetrators to use edged weapons in a terrorist attack. Knives can be easily purchased at a store or taken from a kitchen drawer, thereby making it difficult to control or restrict their use in an attack. Thus, it is easy for the potential perpetrators to avoid detection because acquiring an edged weapon will not arouse suspicion that a violent attack might be imminent.

“Their use requires little advance planning or funding, and gaining access to their unexpecting and defenseless victims is far from challenging, especially in public areas where edged weapons are easily concealed,” Sinai wrote for Security Management. “The shortened timeframes used in edged weapons attacks can make it difficult, although still possible, to predict the imminence and location of such attacks.”