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Attacks by James Smith: a killer deemed

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In the stabbing attacks on September 4, 2022, 11 people lost their lives and 17 others were injured in the James Cree Nation Smith and in the village of Weldon, Saskatchewan.

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

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“Impulsive, irritable and without “remorse”: this is how Matt Logan, criminal investigation psychologist, describes Myles Sanderson, the author of the attacks that occurred on September 4, 2022 in Saskatchewan, as part of the coroner's inquest which aims to shed light on this tragedy.

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 neighboring village of Weldon, Saskatchewan. This is the worst stabbing attack in Canadian history.

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

Child of a mother who consumed alcohol during pregnancy, Myles Sanderson would have experienced a childhood filled with abuse and instability, explains the psychologist.

Young Myles changed schools several times before finally dropping out in 10th grade.

Although he appears to have been in the world of street gangs as a teenager, Matt Logan claims that Myles got out around 17.

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What happens during childhood becomes very important as an adult, explains the psychologist.

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Myles Sanderson, the author of the September 2022 attacks, died shortly after his arrest. (File photo)

Despite the killer's impulsive and quick-to-anger nature, Matt Logan does not believe the September 4, 2022 attacks were impulsive and spontaneous. He said some planning must have been done by Myles in the days or weeks leading up to the tragedy.

An analysis which echoes the testimony of Skye Sanderson heard Thursday at the end of the day. The latter claimed that two weeks before the attacks, Myles confided his desire to kill Vanessa Burns, his partner, to his brother Damien. And when I do, I'm going to kill 10 other people, he even added.

Very often, explains Matt Logan, revenge is behind mass killings. In this case, the psychologist notices that Myles Sanderson mentioned the street gang Terror Squad a few times before and during the attacks. We don't know what the gang did to him, but we do know that Myles was deeply against this organization.

Earlier today, jurors were able to hear the testimony of Mandy Maier, a member of the strategic communications team at the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) in Saskatchewan.

The latter explained that between September 4 and 7, 2022, 12 emergency alerts were sent to the public. A number which has sometimes been criticized.

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Although necessary, the alert can also identify the location of police officers and victims who may be in a dangerous situation near the suspect, explains Mandy Maier (File photo)

Ms Maier acknowledges that there may be a risk that public alertness will decrease with such a large number of alerts in a short period of time. She emphasizes, however, that no research on the subject has been done at the moment.

Several alerts in the first hours following the tragedy had a photo that misidentified Myles Sanderson. Questioned on this subject, Ms. Maier admits that this false information came from human error. The falsely identified individual had, according to the RCMP system, the same name, height and community of origin as the killer.

The coroner's inquest began Monday 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 the 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-wife of Myles Sanderson, the author of the attacks, also told jurors about the abusive 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 scheduled for February.

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