TORONTO, Sept 7 (Reuters) – The suspect wanted by Canadian authorities in a series of stabbing attacks that killed 10 people in and around an Indigenous reservation was arrested on Wednesday and later in “distress unexplained medical condition and died shortly afterwards in a hospital, police said.

Official word that the intense four-day manhunt for Myles Sanderson, 30, ended in his death came at a late-night press conference hours after the Royal Mounted Police of Canada (RCMP) announced that he had been arrested.

Sanderson’s disappearance has clouded investigators’ prospects of clearly determining the motive for Sunday’s deadly attacks, one of the bloodiest acts of mass violence in the nation’s history.

Join now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

His older brother and accused accomplice, Damien Sanderson, 31, was found dead Monday in a grassy area on the James Smith Cree Nation reservation in central Saskatchewan.

Police said they are still investigating whether the younger sibling may have killed his brother following the stabbing, which took place on the reserve and the nearby village of Weldon, around 320km (200 miles) away. north of the provincial capital of Regina. .

Myles Sanderson was arrested near the town of Rosthern, about halfway between Weldon and Saskatchewan’s largest city, Saskatoon, after a resident of an adjacent town reported spotting him with a knife trying to break in. He then rushed into a stolen van, according to the RCMP.

RCMP Assistant Commissioner Rhonda Blackmore told reporters that police catching up with Sanderson forced his truck off the road into a ditch and surrounded the vehicle before taking the suspect into custody and seizing a knife from inside the van.

But Sanderson “went into medical distress” shortly after his arrest, Blackmore said. He was attended to by emergency personnel at the scene and taken by ambulance to hospital where he was pronounced dead a short time later, she said.

Canadian agency Global News, citing multiple law enforcement sources, reported that Sanderson died from unspecified injuries that authorities believe were self-inflicted.

Blackmore gave no details about Sanderson’s medical episode and declined to answer questions about whether he may have ingested a drug or other substance that killed him, saying an autopsy would determine how and the cause of his death.

She said investigators believe he suffered an injury requiring medical attention either during Sunday’s attacks or shortly after, due to the theft of a first aid kit from another vehicle. Blackmore said a 911 emergency caller who reported spotting the suspect on Wednesday also described him as appearing to have an injury.

In addition to the 10 victims killed on Sunday, 18 others were injured in the rampage, which has unnerved a country where mass murder cases are rare. Police said some of the victims appeared to have been targeted, while others were apparently random. (Graphic: https://tmsnrt.rs/3TIFx2F)

Authorities have not provided any explanation as to what could have triggered the attacks.

With the death of Myles Sanderson, “we may never understand that motivation,” Blackmore said.

His arrest came hours after new details of the victims and the circumstances of their deaths emerged from relatives.

In an emotional press conference on Wednesday, Saskatoon Tribal Council Chief Mark Arcand revealed that his sister, Bonnie Burns, 48, and nephew, 28, Gregory Burns, were stabbed to death in their front yard on the James Smith Cree Reserve. Sunday morning.

Burns’ three other sons and two adopted children were also at home at the time of the attacks.

“She was protecting her son. She was protecting those three little boys. That’s why she’s a hero. She’s a real matriarch,” Arcand said of his murdered sister.

Dayson Burns, 13, was stabbed in the neck but survived, and another young boy in the home hid behind a high chair watching the violence unfold, Arcand said.

“During this difficult time, we are just climbing a mountain…and that mountain is the devastation of what happened to a member of our family,” Arcand told reporters.

Some First Nations leaders linked the killings to drug use, but police did not cite drugs or alcohol as factors. A member of James Smith’s Cree, Ivor Wayne Burns, said the Sanderson brothers were from First Nations communities.

Ten of the injured were still hospitalized Tuesday afternoon, seven in stable condition and three in critical condition, health authorities said.

Myles Sanderson had been wanted as a fugitive since May when he stopped meeting with his parole officer after serving time for assault, robbery and other offences. He had amassed a criminal record of 59 convictions over two decades, according to parole documents reviewed by Reuters. Read more

Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino has promised an investigation into the decision to parole Sanderson.

Chief Bobby Cameron of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations said in a statement late Wednesday that communities traumatized by Sunday’s violence can at least “now be reassured that Mr. Sanderson no longer poses a risk to their safety.”

Join now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

Reporting by Anna Mehler-Paperny in Toronto and Steve Scherer in Vancouver; Additional reporting by Ismail Shakil in Ottawa and Doina Chiacu, Kanishka Singh and Rami Ayyub in Washington; Written by Steve Gorman; Editing by Deepa Babington, Lincoln Feast and Kim Coghill

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Anna Mehler Paperny

Thomson Reuters

Toronto-based correspondent covering among other topics migration and health.