Latest updates as of 11 p.m. ET/9 p.m. CT:
- RCMP have confirmed Myles Sanderson went into medical distress after being arrested near Rosthern, Sask., and was pronounced dead in hospital.
- No other details were given about how Sanderson died. Autopsy results will not be released, officials added, citing the ongoing investigation.
- A knife was found inside the vehicle Sanderson was driving when he was apprehended, but no accomplices were with him.
- The investigation remains ongoing, with police planning to interview more witnesses to Wednesday’s events. Over 150 interviews with witnesses and victims have already been conducted, RCMP said.
Saskatchewan RCMP confirmed Wednesday the capture of Myles Sanderson, a suspect in one of the worst mass killings in Canadian history, after an intense four-day search that held national and international attention.
Police later confirmed that Sanderson was pronounced dead in hospital shortly after being taken into custody. Global News first reported Sanderson’s death citing multiple law enforcement sources, who believed he died from self-inflicted injuries, which RCMP did not confirm.
“This evening, our province can breathe a sigh of relief,” Saskatchewan RCMP Commanding Officer Rhonda Blackmore said Wednesday night.
Sanderson, who was facing multiple charges related to a series of fatal stabbings on Sunday, was apprehended around 3:30 p.m. local time near Rosthern, a town north of Saskatoon and more than 100 kilometres southwest of James Smith Cree Nation, where many of the attacks took place.
Multiple law enforcement sources told Global News police used a “pursuit intervention technique” — ramming Sanderson’s vehicle on one side and causing it to spin off the highway.
Blackmore said the vehicle was “directed off the road and into a nearby ditch” where officers were able to identify Sanderson as the driver. A knife was found inside the vehicle after he was taken into custody.
“Shortly after his arrest, he went into medical distress,” Blackmore said, and “all lifesaving measures that we’re capable of were taken,” including CPR. He was taken by ambulance to a hospital in Saskatoon where he was pronounced dead, she added.
Saskatchewan RCMP have requested an independent investigation into Sanderson’s arrest and death. The results of a forthcoming autopsy will not be released, RCMP said, citing the ongoing investigation.
An emergency alert went out on Wednesday afternoon saying an individual that may be connected to the stabbings was seen driving in the Wakaw area in a 2008 white Chevy Avalanche, which was reported stolen from the town. Wakaw is less than 50 kilometres east of Rosthern.
Blackmore said the pickup truck was seen speeding through Rosthern by a RCMP officer shortly before he was spotted on the road outside town, where he was arrested.
Videos taken from the scene of the takedown showed a white pickup truck on the side of the road, surrounded by roughly a dozen RCMP vehicles while a helicopter hovered overhead.
RCMP said on Monday that Sanderson was charged with three counts of first-degree murder, one count of attempted murder, and one count of break and enter of a residence in connection to the stabbings.
Ten people were killed and 18 more were injured in the rampage at 13 crime scenes on the James Smith Cree Nation and the nearby village of Weldon.
Damien Sanderson, Myles’ brother and also considered a suspect in the attacks, was later found dead on the reserve with injuries police said were not believed to be self-inflicted — suggesting he may have been attacked by Myles. Damien had also been charged.
Before news of his death broke, family members of the victims expressed relief that Sanderson had been caught.
“Now people can start to feel safe again but also now is the time for healing to begin,” said Saskatoon Tribal Council Chief Mark Arcand, who lost his sister and nephew in the attacks.
Blackmore said she hoped families could “rest easy tonight knowing Myles Sanderson is no longer a threat to them,” but acknowledged the survivors had “a very long and extensive” healing process.
“Some of them have witnessed incredible trauma, so hopefully this is the first step to them starting that healing process, that grieving process,” she said.
The Saskatchewan Health Authority noted Wednesday that 10 people were still in the hospital with injuries, two in critical condition.
Myles Sanderson’s arrest came after an expansive manhunt that brought additional resources from neighbouring Alberta and Manitoba. A dangerous persons alert covering Saskatchewan was expanded to those provinces due to fears Sanderson may have fled there.
Blackmore said over 160 officers from all three provincial RCMP detachments, as well as local police forces, were involved in the investigation. More than 150 interviews have been conducted with witnesses and victims, she added, with more interviews still be to be conducted with witnesses to Wednesday’s events.
“The magnitude of this investigation is immense,” she said.
Early tips placed the fugitives in Regina, causing local police to fan out across the city over the busy Labour Day holiday weekend — including a sold-out Saskatchewan Roughriders game.
A reported sighting of Sanderson on the James Smith Cree Nation on Tuesday led to a three-and-a-half-hour police operation that shut down the entire reserve as officers searched for him, only to come up empty.
Myles was wanted for being unlawfully at large before the stabbings, according to Crime Stoppers. Global News reported Monday the Parole Board of Canada found in February that Myles would not “present an undue risk,” and freeing him would “contribute to the protection of society” by facilitating his reintegration. He had a lengthy criminal history.
The stabbings and ensuing manhunt sent shockwaves throughout Saskatchewan and the rest of the country, with flags on provincial and federal buildings lowered to half-mast in honour of the victims.
World leaders also condemned the attacks and offered condolences and support to Canada.
An online fundraiser for victims and their families was closed Tuesday after surpassing its $100,000 goal.
Blackmore said the deaths of both Myles and Damien, who she said is still considered a suspect in the attacks, means their motive may never be known.
“His motivation may, at this time and forever, may only be known to Myles,” she said.
—With files from Mercedes Stephenson