(Photo of the James Smith Cree Nation gathering after the arrest of Myles Sanderson. Credit Michael Joel-Hanson.)

Damien Sanderson is not a killer, rather a victim. RCMP provided a timeline of early events leading up to the stabbing rampage on the James Smith Cree Nation and in Weldon on Sept. 4, which left 10 people dead and many others injured.

RCMP Assistant Commissioner Rhonda Blackmore said investigators believe Damien’s brother Myles committed all the murders, bringing the fatality total to 11. Damien’s remains were located on the James Smith Cree Nation on Sept. 5.

“Investigators have determined that Damian Sanderson was a victim of homicide by Myles Sanderson. Myles Sanderson committed all of the homicides alone,” said Blackmore.

Blackmore could not say whether Damien participated in any stabbing incidents, but confirmed he did help in the initial planning of the attacks. “Damian was involved in the initial planning and preparation for the attacks on September 4. We are still investigating the extent of Damien’s involvement,” Blackmore said.

RCMP began its investigation into Damien Sanderson on Sept. 3, the day before the attacks on a report of a stolen vehicle. Officers tracked the stolen vehicle to a house on the James Smith Cree Nation, with the keys not in the ignition.

Blackmore said authorities were aware of an outstanding warrant for Damien for assault and used a photo which was several years old and no longer matched his current description. Officers would go into the house to question seven people there, including three men on the whereabouts of Damien.

However, police could not confirm that Damien was in the home at the time. Mounties located the keys to the vehicle inside the house, but could not link them to any of the seven people, thus not being able to photo identify the three males.

“Officers attended the address on River Street and spoke to the occupants who advised Damian was not there,” explained Blackmore. “Through follow up statements during the investigation, we later confirmed Damian provided a false name to responding officers during the search of the residence. He had been at the residence and verbally provided the officers the name of another person in the community.” Blackmore said officers investigating the stolen vehicle were relying on information on Damien from 2014.

The RCMP contend that during the investigations on September 3, there was no evidence or threats to suspect that the Sanderson brothers were planning or about to implement attacks the next day.

“Myles and Damien Sanderson were actively selling drugs in the community on September 3. Both Myles and Damien were involved in at least three violent altercations involving other individuals in the James Smith Cree Nation. None of these violent altercations were reported to police prior to the homicides being committed on September 4,” said Blackmore.

Mounties received 4600 calls between Sept. 3 and Sept. 8. Investigators are trying to determine a timeline of events, but this could take months to complete.

Chief Coroner Clive Weighill has called two inquests into the rampage, one for the stabbing victims and the other for the in-custody death of Myles Sanderson. The first inquest could begin by late spring of 2023.

Saskatoon Police continue to investigate how Myles died. Authorities said he went into medical distress shortly after RCMP arrested him on Sept. 8. Several media outlets, citing unnamed sources, state Myles died of a drug overdose. Weighill said a preliminary autopsy did not show external blunt force trauma to his body, but that toxicology reports are still pending.