One month after Saanich bank shootout one officer preparing to return to active duty

One month after Saanich bank shootout one officer preparing to return to active duty

It was business as usual at the Bank of Montreal on Shelbourne Street in Saanich Thursday, one month after a deadly shootout shattered the community’s sense of safety.

It was June 28 when police exchanged gunfire with two men who had just robbed the bank as terrified staff and customers watched on. Six police officers, members of the Greater Victoria Emergency Response Team (GVERT), were shot. The two suspects, 22-year-old twins Mathew and Isaac Auchterlonie of Duncan, were killed.

One month into their investigation into the robbery and shooting, the Vancouver Island Integrated Major Crime Unit (VIMCU) isn’t answering any questions but has promised there will be an update for the public at some point.

“I know when the time is right and when the information can be released it will be but there is no set time frame for this, they have to be careful when information is released and what information is released to preserve the integrity of the investigation,” said Saanich Police Chief Constable Dean Duthie.

B.C.’s police watchdog, which is investigating whether the actions of police that day were justified, also said they will provide as many answers as they can eventually, but it too will take time.

“What were the motivations of these two, what were their backgrounds? You know, what do we know about what they had been doing in the days prior? That type of thing,” said Ronald MacDonald, Chief Civil Director of the Independent Investigations Office (IIO).

MacDonald said the final report may take longer than usual because his office is working on an unprecedented number of police-involved shooting files.

“I can’t really say how much longer that will be but it’ll be longer than it would otherwise normally be.”

Two of the six officers shot that day remain in hospital and there is still no timeline on when they might be able to go home.

“There are more surgeries scheduled I know that, for both of them, so there is still a long road ahead,” said Duthie.

But Duthie says they are continuing to improve and a third Saanich officer who was released from hospital the day of the shooting is already preparing to return to active duty.

“I’ve seen him a few times and he’s participated in our reintegration program which many officers have, and the last update I have is that he is moving towards a return to active duty, I don’t have a date at this point but he is moving in that direction.”

The three injured Victoria police officers continue to recover at home.

Duthie says the community support, which remains strong, is helping all of the officers in their recovery. He also says it’s important to continue to support the staff and customers who were at the Bank of Montreal that day.

“They have a lot of stress and memories to process themselves and I just want them to know that the Saanich Police Department is thinking of them, we value them as partners in our community and we’re here for them just as much as they’re here for us,” added Duthie.

April LawrenceApril Lawrence

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