REGINA, Saskatchewan (AP) — A series of stabbings in an indigenous community and another town near the Canadian province of Saskatchewan left 10 dead and 15 injured, Canadian police said Sunday as they searched for two suspects.
The stabbings took place at several locations on the James Smith Cree Nation and in the village of Weldon, northeast of Saskatoon, police said.
Saskatchewan RCMP Assistant Commissioner Rhonda Blackmore said some of the victims appear to have been targeted by the suspects, but others appear to have been attacked at random. He could not motivate.
“It’s horrible what happened in our province today,” Blackmore said.
He said there were 13 crime scenes where dead or injured people were found. He urged the suspects to surrender.
Blackmore said police began receiving reports before 6 a.m. of stabbings in the First Nation community. More reports of attacks quickly followed, and by noon police issued an alert that a vehicle believed to be carrying the two suspects had been spotted in Regina.
Police said the last information they had from the public was that the suspects were seen in Saskatchewan’s capital, Regina, around lunchtime. There have been so many sightings since then.
“If you are in the Regina area, please take precautions and consider evacuating. Do not leave a secure location. DO NOT approach suspicious people. Don’t pick up hitchhikers. Report suspicious persons, emergencies or information to 9-1-1. Do not disclose police locations,” the RCMP said in a message on Twitter.
Doreen Lees, an 89-year-old grandmother from Weldon, said she and her daughter thought they saw one of the suspects when a car pulled into her driveway early this morning as her daughter was drinking coffee on her deck. Lees said a man approached them and said he was hurt and needed help.
But Lees said the man took off and ran after her daughter said she was going to call for help.
“He didn’t show his face. He had a big jacket on his face. We asked his name and he mumbled his name twice and we still couldn’t get it,” he said. “He said his face was so badly injured he couldn’t show it.”
He said the man was alone and “kind of wobbly.”
“I followed him a few ways to see if he would be all right. My daughter said “Don’t follow him, come back here”.
Weldon resident Diane Shier said she was in her garden Sunday morning when she noticed emergency crews a few blocks away.
Shier said her neighbor was killed. He did not want to identify the victim out of respect for his family.
“I’m very upset because I lost a good neighbor,” she said.
The search for suspects was conducted as fans descended on Regina for a sold out annual Labor Day game between the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the Canadian Football League and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
The Regina Police Service said in a press release that with the help of the Mounties, it was working on multiple fronts to locate and apprehend the suspects and had “deployed additional public safety resources across the city, including the football game at Mosaic Stadium “.
The alert first issued by Melfort, Saskatchewan RCMP at about 7 a.m. was extended hours later to cover Manitoba and Alberta as the two suspects remained at large.
Damien Sanderson, 31, was described as five-foot-seven-inches tall and 155 pounds, and Myles Sanderson, 30, as six-foot-1 and 200 pounds. Both have black hair and brown eyes and may be driving a black vehicle.
The Saskatchewan health authority said many patients are being treated at various locations.
“Additional personnel have been called in to respond to the influx of victims,” authorities spokeswoman Ann Linneman said in an email.
Mark Oddan, a spokesman for STARS Air Ambulance, said two helicopters were dispatched from Saskatoon and another from Regina.
He said two were transporting patients to Royal University Hospital in Saskatoon, while the third was transporting a patient to Royal University from a hospital in Melfort, a short distance southeast of Weldon.
“The attacks in Saskatchewan today are horrific and heartbreaking. Thinking of those who lost a loved one and those injured,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted.
“We are closely monitoring the situation and urge everyone to follow updates from local authorities. Thank you to all the brave first responders for their efforts on the ground.”
The James Smith Cree Nation has declared a state of emergency.
Associated Press reporter Rob Gillies in Toronto contributed to this report.