Brian Burns says his 13-year-old son saw everything.
His son is among 18 injured people left in the wake of a rampage of stabbings that saw 10 people die in 13 locations around Saskatchewan on Sunday.
Burns says his young son watched his mother, Bonnie Goodvoice-Burns, get stabbed to death along with his brother, Brian’s oldest, 28-year-old Greg Burns. The 13-year-old was stabbed near his throat, but after some stitches, was released from the hospital on Monday.
Brian Burns, also lost his cousin, 62-year-old Gloria Burns, a first responder who was killed when she went out to a crisis call on the First Nation during the violent rampage.
“I’ve had better days,” he told the Star. “I’m just trying to hold up for my boys. It’s all about them, it’s not about me right now.”
The father, who has three boys and a granddaughter to look after, lost three family members, but his story is just part of a grim mosaic being pieced together about small Saskatchewan communities, victims, suspects, and their lives as more information trickles out about the attack.
As of Tuesday, one suspect is still at large; one is dead. Their alleged actions have terrified Saskatchewan communities and received international attention for what is one of Canada’s deadliest mass murders.
Myles Sanderson, who police say might be injured, was reportedly seen near James Smith Cree Nation territory on Tuesday — the third day of the police hunt — and RCMP asked residents to shelter in place through an emergency alert. However, police issued another alert several hours later stating that he “is not located in the community of James Smith Cree Nation” and that “his whereabouts remain unknown.”
Authorities have previously said Myles may be in Regina.
Damien Sanderson, Myles’s brother, and also a suspect, was found dead on Monday with wounds that police said didn’t appear to be self-inflicted, raising the total death toll to 11.
Nikki Standinghorn of the Sweetgrass First Nation, owner of NeepSee Herbs, Teas and Traditional Medicines, has launched a fundraiser for Brian Burns’s family. So far, about $2,300 in donations have come in, she said during an interview Tuesday.
Her desire to help Burns was sparked after seeing a Facebook post about his being injured in the attack.
“That brought me to tears,” she said.
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Brian Burns said in a Facebook post that he couldn’t enter the home because there was “too much blood inside” and police were collecting evidence.
“It’s hard when my boys cry at night for their mom,” he wrote on Tuesday.
Standinghorn bought a television and PlayStation and is planning on purchasing clothes for the family since they can’t retrieve belongings.
“It’s horrible,” she said. “Of course he’s traumatized and needs some counselling because of what he witnessed.
“They were just trying to save each other.”
The names of other victims have been coming out as well.
Wes Petterson, a man in his 70s who lived in the nearby village of Weldon, was also killed on Sunday. A friend of his, June Carrier, described him as a good person. Another Weldon resident, Robert Rush, said Petterson “wouldn’t hurt a fly.”
His adult grandson was also in the home when the attack on Petterson took place, said Carrier.
Carrier knew Gloria Burns and Petterson and told the Star they were both “absolutely wonderful people.”
Lana Head, a mother of two, was killed in the attack, according to Reuters. CBC News reported that she was a security guard at Northern Lights Casino.
“Not the way I wanted her to leave this world,” friend Melodie Whitecap is quoted as saying by Reuters.
Meanwhile, the Saskatchewan First Nations Veterans Association confirmed on Facebook that Earl Burns was also killed during the stabbings on Sunday. He had served with Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, according to the post.
On Monday, police said the youngest victim was born in 1999.
Kieran Leavitt is an Edmonton-based political reporter for the Toronto Star. Follow him on Twitter: @kieranleavitt
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