REGINA — Myles Sanderson is dead. RCMP F Division has confirmed that Myles, who, along with his brother Damien, had been the co-accused in the mass killings that took place on James Smith Cree Nation and the nearby community of Weldon, had died after being taken into police custody outside of Rosthern.
The news was confirmed by F Division Commanding Officer Rhonda Blackmore at RCMP depot in Regina. She said Sanderson went into medical distress after being arrested, and that he died, but there was no indication how or why. He was taken by ambulance to Royal University Hospital in Saskatoon where he was pronounced dead.
"This evening, our province is breathing a collective sigh of relief," Blackmore told the news conference, "as Myles Sanderson is no longer at large. I can confirm he is no longer a threat and there is no risk to the public related to this investigation."
The stunning news follows a dramatic day when it appeared police had captured Sanderson after a four-day manhunt.
Earlier, RCMP reported that an individual reported to be armed with a knife was travelling in a 2008 white Chevy Avalanche with Saskatchewan licence 953 LPL that was reported stolen out of Wakaw around 2 p.m. RCMP believed this to be related to the Melfort dangerous person alert issued Sunday, Sept. 4. and called for an emergency alert.
Later in the afternoon the public alerts were lifted, and the RCMP reported Myles Sanderson had been located and taken into police custody near Rosthern at approximately 3:30 p.m.
Eyewitnesses reported seeing the takedown of the stolen Chevy Avalanche on the side of Highway 11, surrounded by about a dozen RCMP police vehicles. The initial report from police was that Myles Sanderson had been taken into custody. However, shortly after 6 p.m., Global News reported that Sanderson had died while in police custody.
Here is what Blackmore said she was able to share about the investigation:
“On Sept. 4, the first report was received by Saskatchewan RCMP Operations and Communication Centre at 5:40 a.m. about a stabbing on James Smith Cree Nation. Two RCMP officers on duty that morning from Melfort RCMP detachment, approximately 45 kilometres from James Smith Cree Nation were dispatched by the operational control centre at 5:43 a.m. A second call came into the OCC at 5:59 a.m. It was a report of two injured people at a residence of James Smith Cree Nation, 19 minutes after the first report. Police were already on their way to the scene.
“RCMP officers arrived at the first scene at James Smith Cree Nation at 6:18 a.m.. At 6:20 a.m., two police officers left the scene to head to another scene at James Smith Cree Nation. At 6:35 a.m. due to the significant risk of public safety identified, Saskatchewan RCMP prepared to issue an emergency alert. It was drafted, reviewed, verified and issued at 7:12 a.m.
“The magnitude of this investigation is immense. Over four days, over 160 Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Alberta and Ontario RCMP and partner agencies, both police officers and civilians, have been working nonstop in this investigation.
“On Wednesday, Sept. 7 at 2:07 p.m., Wakaw RCMP received a 911 report of a break and enter in progress in Wakaw's detachment area. Further information provided stated Myles Sanderson was standing outside of a residence northeast of Wakaw and was armed with a knife.
“Sanderson stole a white Chevy Avalanche truck with Saskatchewan licence plate 953 LPL and fled the property. The homeowner was not physically injured.
“The Saskatchewan RCMP Operations and Communication centre continued to receive additional reports of Myles travelling in a vehicle. All available police resources in that region immediately responded to the report including the neighbouring RCMP detachments and Saskatoon Police Service and RCMP aircraft. At 2:49 p.m. an emergency alert was issued to help ensure the safety of residents in the Wakaw region and travellers on the highway.
“Between 2:49 and 3:35 p.m., Saskatchewan RCMP Operations Communication Centre received more than 20 calls from the public with potential sightings of the white Chevrolet Avalanche. The white Chevy truck was seen by a Rosthern RCMP officer driving in an unmarked vehicle, heading west along the highway towards Rosthern at a speed recorded of 150 km/h.
“Police confirmed the licence plate matched the initial report. At approximately 3:30 p.m., the suspect vehicle was seen travelling on Highway 11 south of Rosthern.
“To ensure the safety of drivers on the highway, the vehicle was directed off the road and into a nearby ditch. Police officers surrounded the vehicle, and answering formal identification, confirmed the identity of the driver to be Myles Sanderson.
“He was arrested by police and taken into custody. A knife was located inside the vehicle. The emergency alert was cancelled at 3:50 p.m., once his identity was confirmed and he was taken into police custody.
“Shortly after his arrest, he went into medical distress. Nearby EMS were called by police to attend the scene, and he was transported to a hospital in Saskatoon. He was pronounced deceased at the hospital.
“Saskatchewan RCMP has requested the Saskatoon Police Service and Saskatchewan Incident Response Team to conduct an independent external investigation into circumstances surrounding the incident. Saskatchewan RCMP has requested the Ministry of Justice appoint an independent investigation observer in accordance with section 91.1 of the Saskatchewan Police Act.”
Saskatchewan RCMP says it will continue to investigate the tragedy and will continue to have a presence on the affected communities for the next while.
Blackmore offered her "deepest condolences to the families and all those affected and impacted by these events. Our thoughts are with you and I hope that now you will be able to start healing."