Three police officers who were injured during a shootout with two suspects outside of a Bank of Montreal in Saanich on Tuesday remain in hospital with serious injuries.
During a media briefing Thursday, Saanich Police Chief Dean Duthie told reporters that when officers encountered the two suspects, who were armed, outside of the BMO branch, located on Shelbourne Street, they engaged and shot them dead. He said six officers suffered gunshot wounds as a result of the incident and were taken to hospital, where three still remain in serious condition following surgery.
“I could not be more moved to my core or more grateful for their actions under the most demanding circumstances,” Duthie added.
The three other wounded officers have already been released from hospital.
Duthie said he could not provide any further updates about any of the officers’ conditions and could not provide details about the specific details regarding the shootout, and instead expressed his thanks for all the support the department has received.
“We thank everyone for their warm wishes, thoughts and prayers for their full recovery,” he said.
Vancouver Island Integrated Major Crime Unit (VIIMCU) continues to lead the investigation, said Duthie, adding that he is proud of his officers and thankful for all the support from the community.
“Investigators continue to process the large, public crime scene to gather all evidence … this takes considerable time and resources to complete and again, we appreciate the community’s support, understanding and patience as this continues,” he said.
Meanwhile, RCMP Cpl. Alex Bérubé told reporters that VIIMCU is working with the provincial coroner service to identify the suspects, both males, and notify next of kin.
“Then we will be moving forward on determining more about them. I mean their background, who they are, their histories, and how that may relate to what took place.”
Few additional details about the investigation or shooting were released during the press conference, which lasted no more than 30 minutes.
Bérubé did, however, disclose that the suspect vehicle is an older Toyota sedan.
“With the respect to the suspect vehicle, it is described as a white 1992 Toyota Camry, four-door with two black racing stripes over the hood and roof,” he said, adding that anyone who has information about the vehicle and its movement prior to the shooting on Tuesday should contact VIIMCU.
An RCMP robot was seen investigating a vehicle fitting that exact description and later found explosives, on Tuesday.
Though it was a press conference, law enforcement declined to take any questions from reporters and justified the decision by saying the purpose of today’s event was simply to answer questions that were asked of them yesterday.
“We understand the public had many questions and the media had many questions yesterday that we could not answer and our goal today was to provide those answers to you,” said Const. Markus Anastasiades, media spokesperson for the Saanich Police Department.
Anastasiades explained that it is a “very fluid, ongoing investigation” and that as soon as more information becomes available, a press conference will either be held or a press release will be issued to the media and public.
Anyone who may have seen the white four-door Toyota Camry with black stripes on the roof and hood is urged to contact VIIMCU at 250-380-6211.
An earlier version of this story is below
Investigators will provide a Thursday afternoon update as they try to piece together what happened when armed men stormed a Bank of Montreal and engaged in a shootout that left two of the men dead and six police officers injured.
CHEK News will stream the 3:30 p.m. news conference from Saanich Police headquarters here and on CHEK+.
Police and investigators from the Independent Investigations Office, B.C.’s independent watchdog organization that probes police-involved cases involving serious injury or death, were back outside the bank in the 3600-block of Shelbourne Street Thursday.
The area remained behind police tape as officers could be seen using metal detectors in the area. The cordoned-off perimeter was expanded as police continued their investigation, though some businesses in nearby Shelbourne Plaza were expected to be allowed back at some point during the day.
— Mackenzie Read (@MackenzieRead_) June 30, 2022
Some businesses in the strip mall across the street from the BMO may being opened to some owners, but officers say there will be 6 remained closed by police.
Many questions remain unanswered following the Tuesday morning shootout, including who the two armed, body armour-clad men were who stormed the bank and engaged in gunfire with police — and what their motive was.
Police have also said that while there is “vague” information indicating that a possible third suspect was involved, they don’t believe the public is at risk as they continue to gather information.
One witness trapped inside the bank with the armed men told CHEK News Wednesday that she does believe three suspects were involved.
“I saw another gunman and then I checked myself that oh my gosh, ‘I’ve left my cell phone [in the office] … and I can’t alert the police that there are three suspects, not two,” said Shelli Fryer.
Questions also surround the suspect vehicle or vehicles involved. A police robot could be seen searching the trunk of a white Toyota Camry with black stripes near the scene of the shooting. It found explosive devices that were later transported to be safely destroyed at the Hartland Landfill.
There was also a white van present at the scene, possibly a police vehicle, that could later be seen with blood smeared on its side.
The BC RCMP’s Vancouver Island Major Crime Unit has assumed conduct of the investigation and the agency is still trying to confirm the identities of the two suspects killed in the shootout with police Tuesday, said spokesman Sgt. Chris Manseau.
He also said it’s not clear what the suspects intended to do with the explosives that were disposed of, or what the nature of the devices were.
Of the six officers shot, three have been released from care and three remained in hospital as of Saanich Police’s update on Wednesday afternoon.
They each suffered what were initially considered life-threatening injuries and underwent “extensive surgeries,” and one officer remains in ICU, said Saanich Police Chief Dean Duthie.
Anyone with information on the shooting or the possible third suspect is asked to call VIIMCU’s information line at 250-380-6211.