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Attacks of James Smith: testimony denied by the RCMP | Knife attacks in Saskatchewan

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The Coroner's inquest began on January 15 at the Kerry Vickar Centre, Melfort.

  • Vincent H. Turgeon (View profile)Vincent H. Turgeon

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The sixth day of the coroner's inquest into the attacks that occurred on September 4, 2022 in Saskatchewan began with a review of the testimony of Skye Sanderson, the ex-wife of Damien Sanderson, who died during the attacks. The latter had created some confusion in the courtroom last Thursday by affirming that she had called the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) just hours before the attacks on Damien and Myles Sanderson, information which the police department denies.

On September 4, 2022, Myles Sanderson stabbed 11 people, including his brother, Damien Sanderson, and injured 17 others in the James Smith Cree Nation and the neighboring village of Weldon, Saskatchewan. This is the worst stabbing attack in Canadian history.

A three-day manhunt ensued until law enforcement spotted the car in which Myles Sanderson was traveling on September 7 near the village of Rosthern, 66 km northeast of Saskatoon.

Shortly after his arrest, the fugitive found himself in respiratory distress. Paramedics were called to the scene to take him to a Saskatoon hospital, where he was eventually pronounced dead.

During her testimony, Skye Sanderson claimed to have called 911 several times, just two hours before the killings began. She wanted to report that Damien and Myles Sanderson, the perpetrator of the attacks, had stolen her car and were intimidating some residents of the James Smith Cree Nation. Gendarmes would have come to patrol, but they would not have been able to find the two men, she explained.

Following these revelations, when Skye Sanderson was asked if she was not confusing it with September 3, the day before the tragedy. That day, she had actually called the emergency services to report that Damien Sanderson had stolen her car. The police officers dispatched to the community were then unable to find him.

However, Skye Sanderson reiterated that the events of September 3 described by the RCMP are true, but that she also communicated with the police the next day, September 4, in the early morning.

Knife attacks in Saskatchewan

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Recalled Monday to testify about the allegations, RCMP Major Crimes Unit Staff Sergeant Robin Zentner denied Skye Sanderson's claims.

After cross-verification, the Melfort RCMP detachment received 22 emergency calls between September 3, 2022 and the start of the attacks. However, none of them concern Skye, Damien or Myles Sanderson, apart from the September 3 call already mentioned by the police.

Neither of the two constables on duty on the night of September 3 to 4 would have gone to the James Smith Cree Nation, according to their notes taken that night.

The RCMP attempted to contact Skye Sanderson following her testimony to obtain more information on these new allegations. All calls and messages sent by the police service, however, went unanswered.

The coroner's inquest began on January 15 with a timeline of events, both the timing of the attacks and the whereabouts of Myles Sanderson and his brother, Damien Sanderson, in the preceding days.

The first two police officers to arrive on scene were then able to describe their arrival in the James Smith Cree Nation and how they handled the crisis.

The Melfort RCMP detachment commander at the time of the attacks also testified, saying the day of the tragedy was “the worst thing [he] saw in [his] career.”

The ex-partner of Myles Sanderson, the author of the attacks, also explained to jurors the violent relationship she was in and the distress she felt on September 4 2022.

The coroner's investigation aims to shed light on the deaths of the various victims, including the manner, time and place where they were killed. It also aims to make recommendations to prevent such a tragedy from repeating itself.

A second investigation into the death of Myles Sanderson is due in February.

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