Canadian police are into a fourth day of searching for the remaining suspect in a stabbing spree in which 10 people died in and around an indigenous community, rattling a country unaccustomed to acts of mass violence.
Myles Sanderson, 30, whose brother and accused accomplice was himself found slain a day after Sunday’s attacks in Saskatchewan province, was briefly believed to have resurfaced on Tuesday in the vicinity of the rampage, about 320km north of the provincial capital of Regina.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) issued an alert on Tuesday of “a possible sighting” of the surviving brother in the tribal reserve of the James Smith Cree Nation, urging residents to remain indoors and be vigilant.
CBC News reported a heavy police presence on the indigenous reserve following that alert.
Hours later, however, the RCMP said its investigation had determined the suspect was elsewhere, though his whereabouts were not known and the public was urged to be cautious.
The fugitive and his brother, Damien Sanderson, 31, are suspected of stabbing 10 people to death and wounding 18 on the James Smith Cree reserve and nearby village of Weldon on Sunday, shaking an indigenous community of 3400 people in one of the bloodiest attacks in Canada’s modern history.
Damien Sanderson was found dead in a grassy area of the reserve the next day. Police said they were investigating whether the younger sibling might have killed his brother and possibly sustained injuries that might need medical attention.
Authorities have offered no possible motive for the attacks. Police said some victims appeared to have been targeted, while others were apparently random.
Ivor Wayne Burns, a resident of the James Smith Cree, said the Sanderson brothers belonged to First Nations communities and were under the influence of drugs at the time of the crimes.
The Regina police chief, Evan Bray, said late on Monday the search for Myles Sanderson was focused in that city, but in a videotaped Twitter update posted on Tuesday said the manhunt had “expanded into the province”.
Among the surviving victims, 10 were in hospital as of Tuesday afternoon, seven in stable condition and three critical, health authorities said.
Some First Nation leaders have linked the killings to drug use, but police have not cited drugs or alcohol as factors.
Media attention focused in part on circumstances surrounding Myles Sanderson’s release from prison on parole this year.
Sanderson has been wanted as a fugitive since May when he stopped meeting his parole officer after serving time for assault, robbery and other offences, CBC News reported.
The CBC, citing Canadian Parole Board documents, reported Sanderson had a criminal record of 59 convictions over two decades.
Minister of Public Safety Marco Mendicino told reporters the board “will be undertaking an investigation of the decision” to release Sanderson on parole.
Asked at a Tuesday news briefing about reports that Sanderson had been unlawfully at large for several months, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters, “we are very much still in crisis mode”.
“Over the past two days, we’ve been focused on doing everything we can to keep people safe,” he said.