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Damien Sanderson’s last text messages before 2022 mass killing revealed

Click to play video: 'Emotional day at inquest into Saskatchewan massacre'
Emotional day at inquest into Saskatchewan massacre
WATCH: Emotional day at inquest into Saskatchewan massacre – Jan 16, 2024

Damien Sanderson, brother of James Smith Cree Nation and Weldon, Sask., killer Myles Sanderson, texted family and friends before the 2022 mass murders saying they likely wouldn’t see him again.

“Love you so much Skye my last message,” Damien texted his wife Skye Sanderson on the morning of Sept. 4, 2022, 15 minutes before the mass killings. “We going out.”

He also told his daughter that morning it was probably going to be the last time she saw him.

Click to play video: 'Damien Sanderson’s last text messages before 2022 mass killing revealed'
Damien Sanderson’s last text messages before 2022 mass killing revealed

Over the next few hours, 11 members of James Smith Cree Nation and the nearby community of Weldon were stabbed to death by Damien’s brother Myles and 17 were injured.

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Staff Sgt. Robin Zentner with Saskatchewan RCMP continued laying out each attack during the official coroner’s inquest into the killings on Tuesday.

He said that days before the attack, Damien had told several people over text that he and Myles were going “on a mission” and he was “ready to die”.

He texted his niece, Aaliyah Sanderson, on Sept. 3, 2022, saying “last time you are gonna hear (from) me”.

Click to play video: '‘Hurry please’: Details of stabbing rampage heard on Day 2 of Saskatchewan inquest'
‘Hurry please’: Details of stabbing rampage heard on Day 2 of Saskatchewan inquest

Aaliyah asked why, to which Damien replied “you’ll hear about (it)”.

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Fifteen minutes before the first assault on Sept. 4, Damien messaged Kelly Shane Burns, saying he wasn’t OK, that he loved him, and it was the “last time you gonna hear from me”.

RCMP have said that Damien and Myles were together for several days prior to the killings, selling and buying drugs on James Smith Cree Nation. Text messages on Damien’s and community members’ phones show that Myles was threatening individuals associated with the “Terror Squad” Saskatchewan gang.

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Zentner said RCMP never found a cellphone on Myles or any records that he had one.

RCMP ruled Damien as the first homicide victim of the stabbing spree, a fact already revealed by police months earlier.

Two photos of Damien’s body were shown during the timeline Tuesday — the only photos of a body planned to be shown during the inquest.

“Where at all possible, there will not be graphic, visual evidence shown on screen,” said James Smith Cree Nation lawyer Keith Brown. “In large part, that decision was made in the eye of, with the aim or intent to ensure minimal re-traumatization of victims and family members.”

A distant, aerial photo of Damien’s shirtless, shoeless body was shown lying on its side near a road, drawing tears from relatives and friends sitting in on the inquest.

His bloodied shirt was found on the road.

Police didn’t find Damien’s body until at least 24 hours after his death as tall grass and bushes hid his body from a ground level view.

Police have confirmed that an altercation occurred between the two brothers in the van they were travelling in between 5:40 a.m. and 5:50 a.m. on Sept. 4 that caused Damien’s death.

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One community member misidentified Myles as Damien during a 911 call after being stabbed during the event, leading police to believe he was still alive and travelling with Myles.

RCMP later found Damien to be innocent in the killings apart from an interaction during which he attempted to stop Myles’ first stabbing of First Nation member Martin Moostoos.

“Myles Sanderson, and Myles Sanderson alone, was responsible for all of the homicides and attempted homicides that occurred on the James Smith Cree Nation and the community of Weldon, Sask., on Sept. 4, 2022,” Zentner said.

Photos of kicked-in doors and blood-splattered crime scenes were presented from the September day after Damien’s death, outlining Myles’ whereabouts during his stabbing spree — including one stop at the house of his father-in-law, Earl Burns.

Myles’ 14-year-old son was in the basement and told police he heard his father say, “I’m going to kill you (Earl Burns) and my son.”

He stabbed Earl who chased him off in his school bus before continuing his rampage.

A responding officer passed Burns’ bus and crashed in a ditch while on the phone with the second officer responding to the 911 calls.

Neither knew Burns was dead inside and didn’t stop.

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“It is clear from this conversation that the size and scope of this event was not known yet,” Zentner said after listening to the officers’ call and watching a video of the officer drive past the bus.

The officer only called for one or two additional police vehicles and seemed to know that only one was dead and another stabbed.

Later on, several community members told police Myles showed up at their door and appeared holding “a bloody knife”. He told them he had just stabbed or killed 10 to 12 people.

According to community member David Head, Myles came to his house hiding his knife behind his back and asked Head, “Want to know how many bodies I got tonight?”

Myles’ last victim was killed in Weldon. Air ambulances and paramedics rushed to the First Nation to respond to the scene.

“Every person that made it to the band office, where the triage was set up, every single individual survived the event.”

No one survived that didn’t make it to the triage centre.

Myles was arrested on Sept. 7 and died in police custody. His clothes were seized by police and contained the blood of victims Christian Head, Earl Burns Sr. and Lloyd “Scott” Burns.

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His shoes matched bloody footprints imprinted at nine crime scenes where he had busted down doors and walked around victims’ homes.

“Looking back there were some warning signs, some messages that had been shared,” Zentner said at the end of his presentation, referring to messages from Damien to his wife and relatives.

“Drugs and crime, those types of issues that plague many of our communities in our province are not an easy task or easy issue for many of our communities to battle through.”

He said communities need to come forward to police about drug issues within the community and keep an open line of communication with the authorities.

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