By ROB GILLIES and ROBERT BUMSTED
JAMES SMITH CREE NATION, Saskatchewan (AP) — As the manhunt dragged on for one of two brothers in the stabbing deaths of 10 people in Saskatchewan, the rampage raised questions Wednesday about why which the suspect – an ex-con with 59 convictions and a long history of shocking violence – was on the streets in the first place.
Myles Sanderson, 32, was released by a parole board in February while serving a sentence of more than four years for assault and robbery charges. But he had been wanted by police since May, apparently for breaching the conditions of his release, although the details were not immediately clear.
His long and sinister rap sheet also showed that seven years ago he attacked and stabbed one of the victims killed during the weekend rampage, according to court records.
Canada’s Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said there would be an investigation into the parole board’s assessment of Sanderson.
“I want to know the reasons for the decision” to release him, Mendicino said. “I am extremely concerned about what happened here. A community was left in shock.
Sanderson and his brother Damien, 30, are accused of killing 10 people and injuring 18 in a series of attacks on an indigenous reservation and in the nearby town of Weldon. Damien was found dead on Monday and police are investigating whether his own brother killed him.
Investigators gave no reason for the bloodshed.
The Saskatchewan Coroner’s Service said nine of those killed were from James Smith’s Cree Nation: Thomas Burns, 23; Carol Burns, 46; Gregory Burns, 28; Lydia Gloria Burns, 61; Bonnie Burns, 48; Earl Burns, 66; Lana Head, 49; Christian Head, 54; and Robert Sanderson, 49, One was from Weldon, Wesley Patterson, 78. Authorities would not say how the victims might be related.
Saskatoon Tribal Council Chief Mark Arcand said his half-sister Bonnie and son Gregory were killed.
“His son was lying there already deceased. My sister came out and tried to help her son, and she was stabbed twice, and she died right next to him,” he said. “Right outside her home, she was killed by senseless acts. She was protecting her son. She was protecting three little boys. That’s why she’s a hero.
Arcand rushed into the reserve on the morning of the looting. After that, he said, “I woke up in the middle of the night screaming and screaming. What I saw that day, I can’t get out of my head.
As for what sparked the violence, Arcand said, “We are all looking for the same answers. We don’t know what happened. Perhaps we will never know. This is the hardest part of it all.
Court documents say Sanderson attacked his in-laws Earl Burns and Joyce Burns in 2015, stabbing Earl Jones multiple times and injuring Joyce Burns. He later pleaded guilty to assault and threatening the life of Earl Burns.
Many of Sanderson’s crimes were committed while intoxicated, according to court records. He at one point told parole officials that substance use drove him crazy. Records showed he repeatedly violated court orders prohibiting him from drinking or using drugs.
Indigenous communities in Canada are plagued by drugs and alcohol.
“The drug problem and the alcohol problem on these reservations are out of control,” said Ivor Wayne Burns, whose sister was killed in the weekend bombings. “We have deaths and we asked before anything was done.”
Myles Sanderson’s childhood was marked by abuse, neglect and substance abuse, according to court records. Sanderson, who is Indigenous and grew up on the Cree reservation, population of 1,900, started drinking and smoking marijuana around age 12, and cocaine followed soon after.
In 2017, he broke into his ex-girlfriend’s house, punched a hole in a bathroom door while his two children were hiding in a bathtub and threw a block of cement at a vehicle parked outside, according to parole documents.
He got into a fight days later at a store, threatening to kill an employee and burn down his parents’ house, documents show.
In November, he threatened an accomplice to rob a fast food restaurant by bludgeoning him with a gun and stomping on his head. He then stood guard during the heist.
In 2018 he stabbed two men with a fork while drinking and knocked someone unconscious.
When he was released in February, the parole board placed conditions on his contact with his partner and children and also said he should not have relations with women without the written permission of his parole officer.
In granting Sanderson “statutory release,” parole authorities said, “It is the opinion of the Board that you will not pose an undue risk to society.”
Canadian law grants prisoners statutory release after they have served two-thirds of their sentence. But the parole board can impose conditions on that freedom, and inmates who violate them — as Sanderson has done more than once — can be sent back to prison.
Sharna Sugarman, who ran a GoFundMe for victims, questioned the parole board for releasing him and wondered why Sanderson was still at large so many months after he was found to be “unlawfully at large”.
“It’s just glaring to me,” said Sugarman, a counselor who counted one of the stabbing victims as a client. “If they claim they were looking for it, well, you weren’t looking that hard.”
Mendicino, the public security minister, said authorities must ensure nothing like this happens again.
“It is extremely important that when a person is at large and there is a warrant for their arrest, and they have a serious criminal history, that all the resources are there to be able to apprehend this person as quickly as possible. quickly as possible,” he said. “We have to look very carefully at what happened.”
AP writer Heather Hollingsworth in Kansas City contributed to this report.