Feds have ‘questions’ about Myles Sanderson’s death in RCMP custody: Mendicino

Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino says the government has “questions” about Myles Sanderson’s death in RCMP custody shortly after his arrest late Wednesday.

Sanderson was the subject of a four-day manhunt after being named as a suspect in one of the worst mass killings in Canadian history. Eleven people were killed during the rampage, including one of the suspects, and 19 people were injured.

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Saskatchewan stabbing suspect Myles Sanderson dead after 4-day manhunt, RCMP says

The hunt for Sanderson came to an end at about 3:30 p.m. local time near Rosthern, a town north of Saskatoon, where he was arrested alive.

Just hours later, police confirmed Sanderson was pronounced dead in hospital.

“We have questions,” Mendicino said in response to reporter questions late Wednesday.

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“That’s why there has been an independent investigation, which has been commenced at the request of the RCMP, to be conducted by Saskatoon police as well as another incident response group out of Saskatchewan.”

That investigation is ongoing, the public safety minister said.

Click to play video: 'Three simultaneous vigils held for Saskatchewan stabbing victims'

Three simultaneous vigils held for Saskatchewan stabbing victims

Three simultaneous vigils held for Saskatchewan stabbing victims

Global News first reported Sanderson’s death, citing multiple law enforcement sources, who believed he died from self-inflicted injuries, which the RCMP did not confirm.

Multiple law enforcement sources told Global News that police used a “pursuit intervention technique” — ramming Sanderson’s vehicle on one side and causing it to spin off the highway.

Speaking to reporters Wednesday night, Saskatchewan RCMP Commanding Officer Rhonda 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.

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“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.

The results of a forthcoming autopsy will not be released, RCMP said, citing the ongoing investigation.

“There are a number of ongoing investigations, both into the circumstances surrounding Mr. Sanderson’s death, as well as the stabbings that occurred in the James Smith Cree Nation,” Mendicino said on Wednesday.

“Obviously, there will continue to be questions … about the circumstances involving the death of Myles Sanderson.”

The hope, Mendicino said, is to “obtain a measure of transparency about the circumstances.”

“But right now, the priority is the family,” he added.

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Mother of two, first responder among those killed

The Saskatchewan Health Authority noted Wednesday that 10 people were still in the hospital with injuries, two in critical condition.

The RCMP also released the names of the victims of the stabbings on Wednesday. Among them, are a 77-year-old widower, a first responder, and a woman described by her brother as “a true matriarch.”

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Ivor Burns and Darryl Burns from the James Smith Cree Nation told Reuters that their sister, Gloria, was among the dead.

She devoted her life to helping people. She grew up in this community, and she had battled with addiction. She battled with a whole bunch of issues in her life before she started working in the field,” Darryl told Global News.

Ivor said the massacre was “unreal.”

“It’s something that is hard to comprehend because we’re kind of a small people. We’re stuck on the same little piece of land … and we all live close together.”

Saskatoon Tribal Council Chief Mark Arcand lost his sister and nephew in the attacks. After Sanderson’s arrest — before news of his death broke — he said “people can start to feel safe again.”

“But also now is the time for healing to begin,” he said.

Click to play video: '‘James Smith is my community’: Woman spearheads campaign to help Saskatchewan’s grieving families'

‘James Smith is my community’: Woman spearheads campaign to help Saskatchewan’s grieving families

‘James Smith is my community’: Woman spearheads campaign to help Saskatchewan’s grieving families

Blackmore said Wednesday 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.

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As for the motive, she said the deaths of both Myles and Damien, who she said is still considered a suspect in the attacks, means those answers may never be found.

“His motivation may, at this time and forever, may only be known to Myles,” she said.

Investigations into both the circumstances of Sanderson’s death and the mass stabbings are ongoing.

— with files from Global News’ Ashleigh Stewart, Mercedes Stephenson, Sean Boynton and Brody Langager 

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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