Manitoba RCMP welcome tips on manhunt suspect, but social media can lead to false info

As the manhunt for the suspect in a mass stabbing continues across the prairies, Manitoba RCMP say people in this province should stay alert, but not be overly cautious, as all information suggests Myles Sanderson hasn’t left Saskatchewan.

Residents of Manitoba and Alberta also received multiple emergency alerts over the weekend, after a deadly series of stabbings in Saskatchewan had police searching for Sanderson and his brother, Damien, who was found dead Monday near one of the crime scenes.

“We don’t want to overemphasize the possible dangers, but at the same time, we want people to have that in the back of their mind that right now one suspect is still outstanding, we still believe is in Saskatchewan until the intel suggests otherwise,” said RCMP Sgt. Paul Manaigre.

“If we start getting information that he’s in Manitoba, we’ll provide those updates and perhaps try and narrow down the location.

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“But at this point, it’s just for safety-wise just to remain vigilant. If you’re out on the highways, don’t even stop for hitchhikers. Call those locations in. Our officers might want to go check if the descriptions possibly match our suspect.”

Read more: Ex Mountie says hunt for Saskatchewan stabbing suspect complicated by vast open space of Prairies

Manaigre said there’s been a lot of information has been floating around on social media over the course of the manhunt, and while tips from the public in a situation like this are welcome and encouraged, social posts have the potential to spread misinformation — whether intentionally or not.

“(Facebook and Twitter) could be great tools for providing information. But at the same time, they can also be negative in the sense that they spread the false rumours,” he said.

“I believe on Saturday night or Sunday night, we were getting tips that their suspects might be in Dauphin and the Grandview/Gilbert Plains area. So officers were having to, you know, follow those leads. And we’ve confirmed that they were false.

“You’ve got to be careful with the rumours…. You want tips but you want hopefully tips that are credible. But like I say, we’ll act on any information that we get and we’ll try and, say, prove or disprove the information that comes in.”

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Christopher Schneider, an associate professor of sociology at Brandon University, says while getting information from police about dangerous criminals is a good thing, there can be a downside when that’s done via social media.

“We know there’s a lot of information, including misinformation, that can be readily circulating on social media and that can be problematic,” Schneider said.

“So should the police be using social media? Absolutely. But it’s complicated because it’s user-generated and interactive.”

Click to play video: 'Update on Saskatchewan stabbings' Update on Saskatchewan stabbings

Update on Saskatchewan stabbings

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