WARNING: Distressing content
Thursday morning the Coroner’s Inquest looking in the mass stabbing on James Smith Cree Nation and Village of Weldon heard from the officer who was in command of the Melfort RCMP detachment when the mass stabbing happened.
Retired Staff Sgt. Darren Lee Simons, said he was at home when he got word that there had been a stabbing on the First Nation. The Staff Sgt. said he was eventually informed that multiple people had been stabbed and one person was possibly dead. The multiple reports did not cause Simons to believe there were multiple attacks.
“Sometimes it’s all the same incident,” he said.
Like the initial responding officers Simons traveled to the Melfort detachment to get his police vehicle and some equipment. He said he was able to get to James Smith fairly quickly and met up with Tanner Maynard, who was serving as an acting Corporal and was in command of the situation at the triage centre located at the band office.
“This was an extremely chaotic situation,” he said.
At the triage centre, Simons said he noticed lots of injured people who were lined up against the wall of the building. He noted many of the injured had wounds to their upper bodies which included injuries to their necks and heads.
“It just didn’t seem real,” he said.
The Staff Sgt. said emotions were running high at the time. He explained while on site at the triage centre a pick up truck drove up to the building in an aggressive way and the driver inside the truck had a shot gun with them and said they were going to go after the suspect.
“People were talking to that individual trying to calm him down,” he said.
Simons said while people were talking to the person in the truck, he got into the vehicle and took the keys out and removed the shot gun.
Among the scenes Simons attended on James Smith was the school bus where Earl Burns Sr. was found dead. The Staff Sgt. got emotional when questioned by the representative of the family of Burns Sr, who asked why it took so long for someone to attend to the bus, which was in a ditch. Simons talked about how he himself was a veteran of the Canadian Armed Forces like Burns Sr was. He explained at the time he was working to prioritize calls for help as best as he could with the information he had at the time. Simons said he was sorry for not getting to the bus sooner.
“This ones tough on me personally,” he said.
During his career in the RCMP, which spanned over 30 years as well talked about his experience working with First Nations police services, specifically the Siksika Police Service in Alberta. When questioned about working with that First Nation’s police service said he remembered it having issues with recruitment and that not all members lived on the First Nation.
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