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A flag flies at half mast in James Smith Cree Nation, Sask., on September 6, 2022.Heywood Yu/The Canadian Press

A hot, windy September day wound to another anxious end in Saskatchewan on Tuesday, as a manhunt continued for Myles Sanderson, the suspect in a weekend stabbing rampage that left 10 victims dead and 18 others injured in and around the James Smith Cree Nation.

Police presence remained noticeable both in the communities around the First Nation on Tuesday, and in Regina to the south, where police say Mr. Sanderson was seen driving a black Nissan Rogue on Sunday.

In Melfort, the closest city to the James Smith Cree Nation, vehicles lined the streets around the local RCMP detachment, with officers in tactical vests, plain clothing and RCMP uniforms coming in and out of the building throughout the day.

Myles Sanderson is described by police as 6-foot-1 with black hair and brown eyes.Saskatchewan RCMP/The Canadian Press

Tensions were particularly high on the First Nation, as the close-knit community grappled with a staggering loss of life and grievous injury, attention from media who have descended from around the world, and a dangerous suspect who is known to the community and remains on the loose, his whereabouts uncertain.

Police have been working in the grieving community since Sunday, but officers and tactical teams rushed back in force again late on Tuesday morning, after reports that Mr. Sanderson had been seen there.

Explainer: Saskatchewan stabbings: Updates on RCMP manhunt, suspects and victims

Parole documents reveal details of Saskatchewan suspect’s criminal past

RCMP issued an emergency alert to the public at 11:45 a.m. Saskatchewan time, warning that the wanted man may have returned.

The alert advised people in the area to find immediate shelter, or stay in place if they were safe. Many marked and unmarked RCMP vehicles responded, and a police helicopter flew overhead.

An Associated Press photo showed a large number of vehicles around a beige house.

At about 2:30 p.m., a contingent of police vehicles left the First Nation, and an updated alert issued a short time later said further investigation had determined Mr. Sanderson was not in the area.

RCMP did not release any other information about the situation on Tuesday, and have not yet released the names of the deceased victims.

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The First Nation was home to nine of the victims who were stabbed to death on Sunday, and at least 15 of those who were injured in the rampage. The tenth deceased victim was killed in the nearby town of Weldon, Sask.

Mr. Sanderson’s brother, Damien Sanderson, was initially identified as a second suspect in the killings, and was charged on Sunday with one count of first-degree murder. He was found dead in a grassy area around one of the crime scenes at the James Smith Cree Nation on Monday, from injuries police say were not self-inflicted.

Police have said they are investigating whether Myles Sanderson is a suspect in his brother’s death as well. Myles is currently charged with three counts of first-degree murder, and RCMP have said they expect more charges to be laid.

Individual houses and crime scenes in the community have been cordoned off and guarded by RCMP since the attack, but there was nothing barring or restricting general access to the First Nation on Tuesday.

An hour after the emergency alert, all entrances and exits to the community had been blocked off, and RCMP were checking inside vehicles. An ambulance sat waiting at the First Nation’s community centre parking lot, and community members gathered there, sitting in their vehicles or standing outside in small groups.

People there declined to speak with media, and reporters were asked to leave the community.

RCMP vehicles block all entry into James Smith Cree Nation on Sept. 6.Sara Hylton/The Globe and Mail

While the search for Mr. Sanderson continues, the entire country is still reckoning with the scope of the violence.

Brian Burns told The Globe he lost his son Gregory, 28, and his wife, Bonnie Goodvoice-Burns, in the attack. And he confirmed that crisis worker and first responder Gloria Burns was killed along with them at his home on the First Nation. His 11-year-old son, Dayson, was stabbed and injured, and Mr. Burns said the child was released from hospital with stitches Monday.

In a Facebook post Tuesday morning, Mr. Burns thanked the people and organizations who had helped him with food, clothing and accommodations, explaining that he can’t go home to get any personal possessions because there is too much blood in the house.

“I’m not even sure if our boys can go back home,” he wrote.

Earl Burns Sr., one of the deceased following the stabbing rampage in James Smith Cree Nation and Weldon, Sask.Handout

In the post, he said it would be up to the children to decide when and if to return. Until then, they are staying in a hotel.

“It’s hard when my boys cry at night for their mom,” he wrote.

In a separate Facebook message, the Saskatchewan First Nations Veterans Association confirmed the death of another victim, Earl Burns, saying he was a veteran with the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry.

Earl Burns’s sister, Deborah McLean, told the news website paNow in Prince Albert that her brother died protecting his family, and that his wife is in intensive care.

Police have not confirmed the Sanderson brothers’ relationship to the James Smith Cree Nation or discussed possible motives for the violence, but have said some of the attacks were random, others targeted.

A memorial of flowers continued to grow outside the home of Wes Petterson, the man who was killed in Weldon. Residents there have said Mr. Petterson lived with his grandson, who was downstairs when the attack occurred.

“You’re following the news and wondering what the heck’s going on,” Dave Barlow, a resident of Weldon, said on Tuesday evening. “In your mind, you’re trying to piece it together. It’s just a shock.”

“Now we have to keep our doors locked. This is a place you never keep your doors locked.”

Dave Barlow, 74, outside his girlfriend's home in Weldon.Sara Hylton/The Globe and Mail

Flags fly at half-mast outside a high school in Prince Albert, Sask., on Sept. 6.Sara Hylton/The Globe and Mail

Around the province, flags flew at half-mast on Tuesday, and Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe has said they will remain so for at least the week to come, with each day marking one of the 10 dead stabbing victims.

In Regina, where police have said the suspect may be in hiding, the first day of classes after the summer break started uneasily.

“I told the kids as much as I could – that there’s a bad man out there, so we need to stick close to home right now. We can’t talk to any strangers,” Erin Borgmann said. Her children, with their brand-new backpacks and running shoes, seemed oblivious as they raced around their school’s playground. A flag at half-mast was the only outward sign that something was amiss.

Ms. Borgmann had driven the kids to Kitchener School, a red brick elementary school in Regina’s North Central neighbourhood. She said that normally she would walk them the few short blocks. But, just days after the stabbings, she wasn’t taking any chances.

Destiny Papequash, whose children also attend Kitchener, said she believes they are safest there, where the doors are locked to outsiders. Although she doesn’t know the two men allegedly responsible for the attacks, she said she believes drugs – methamphetamine in particular, which she has watched take hold of her community over the past year – are to blame.

“It’s so sad. It affects their thinking, their behaviour. It causes permanent damage. People become paranoid, they start talking crazy,” she said. “And it harms the whole family. You can’t get together any more, you can’t be around people who use.”

Speaking at a news conference in Vancouver on Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau described the situation in Saskatchewan as a horrific and traumatic event, and one that is still in its early stages.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says his government is focused on helping those in Saskatchewan get through the crisis after the stabbing attack Sunday left 10 dead and 18 injured.

The Canadian Press

“We are very much still in crisis mode,” he said. “Over the past two days we’ve been focused on doing everything we can to keep people safe, to ensure that they’re getting the supports they need for the trauma that they’re experiencing … Our other focus is, of course, making sure the police forces of jurisdiction have all the resources necessary to put an end to the fear that people are going through until this individual is apprehended.”

Documents from the Parole Board of Canada describe Myles Sanderson as a troubled man with a history of serious violence against his family and others. He had been on statutory release from a 52-month prison sentence earlier this year, but has been wanted by police since the spring after violating the conditions of his release.

With reports from Bill Curry and The Canadian Press


Saskatchewan stabbings: More from The Globe and Mail

The Decibel

Globe and Mail reporter Alanna Smith has been visiting rural Saskatchewan to see how the communities are coping with the stabbing attacks. Listen to her update with The Decibel. Subscribe for more episodes.


Video: Victims in focus