Warning: This story and video contain graphic content that may be distressing to some.
Two suspects were killed and six police officers were injured in a shootout at a Saanich bank Tuesday, an incident the district’s police chief said was unlike anything he’s seen in his 27-year career.
Saanich and Victoria police officers and members of the Greater Victoria Emergency Response Team were called to the Bank of Montreal in the 3600-block of Shelbourne Street at around 11 a.m. Tuesday following reports of armed men entering the bank.
As officers arrived, a shootout with the suspects ensued outside the bank and two suspects were shot and killed by police.
Six GVERT officers, including three members of Saanich Police and three members of Victoria Police, were sent to hospital with gunshot wounds. While three officers were expected to be released following emergency treatment, three others sustained more serious injuries and were undergoing surgery Tuesday.
Police had been searching for a possible third suspect and a shelter-in-place order was in place for residents in the area of North Dairy Road to Cedar Hill Cross Road, and Richmond Road to Cedar Hill Road was lifted shortly before 6 p.m., however, the 3600-block of Shelbourne remains closed.
UPDATE | We are lifting the shelter in place. We have searched the area & have not uncovered further indication of a potential 3rd suspect. 3600-block of Shelbourne remains closed as we continue to respond to the potential explosive device. #yyj
— Saanich Police (@SaanichPolice) June 29, 2022
Residents in the area of North Dairy Road to Cedar Hill Cross Road, and Richmond Road to Cedar Hill Road are asked to shelter in place.
“This is ongoing and there are many parts that are still in motion now,” Saanich Police Chief Dean Duthie told reporters.
He said police would update the public when a third suspect is either confirmed or when investigators determine there is no other suspect.
“There’s vague information at this point, again, and that’s why we’re taking all steps necessary to make that confirmation and that’s all I can really say on that at his point,” Duthie said, elaborating on why investigators believe there may be another suspect at large.
An evacuation order also remained in place for homes and businesses near the scene of the incident due to the presence of a potential explosive device in a vehicle associated with the suspects.
Police officers on the scene of a shooting on Shelbourne Street in Saanich, June 28, 2022. (CHEK News)
Police said at this time, they don’t believe any bank employees, customers or civilians were injured in the incident.
A heavy police presence remained in the area late Tuesday afternoon and police said they would provide further updates on the investigation and welfare of injured officers.
Calling it a “difficult day” in the history of the department, Duthie said he’s never experienced a level of violence like Tuesday’s shootout in his time with Saanich Police.
“In my service with Saanich, being just shy of 27 years, there’s been nothing to this extent in my experience,” he said.
“I’ve received phone calls from chiefs of police throughout the province…everybody is demonstrating an outpouring of support, high-level support, and they’re making it very clear that they’ll do what they can to assist the Saanich Police Department and the Victoria Police Department in this matter.”
Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes issued a tweet saying the district’s hearts “go out to our officers, bank staff and residents,” calling the situation “horrendous.”
Our hearts go out to our officers, bank staff and residents … no words can describe how horrendous this is…
— Fred Haynes, Saanich Mayor (@HaynesSaanich) June 28, 2022
WITNESS VIDEO SHOWS SHOOTOUT UNFOLD
Video shared with CHEK News shows multiple police officers running toward the Bank of Montreal branch on Shelbourne as gunshots continuously ring out.
Andy Wyld, who owns Brilliant Brothers Services, said he and a crew were working in the area when they were about to head lunch at Fujiya Sushi nearby.
“We were right behind Fujiya, we heard all the gunshots going off and it was at that point we saw all the cops running,” said Wyld. “We had one officer, he was yelling at us to get back and everything so we went and hid behind the dumpster for a good while.”
Wyld said they heard 30 to 50 loud gunshots go off as they hid.
The owner of Oregano’s Pizza, which is located in Shelbourne Plaza on Shelbourne at Pear, said he saw multiple police vehicles with lights on in front of the McDonald’s on Shelbourne at around 11:10 a.m., with another next to the TD Bank.
“All had their…guns out on their sides,” said Jason Venkaya. “I knew something was going down. About 10 minutes later we heard shots fired and they locked down the plaza.”
Witness Mark Woolsey said that he heard a “barrage of gunfire” coming from Pear at Shelbourne before officers told him to take cover inside his workplace nearby.
Speaking to a Saanich shootout witness Mark Woolsey who says he heard a “barrage of gunfire” coming from the corner of Pear and Shelbourne before he was told to take cover inside as dozens of police officers rushed towards the gunfire, guns out. @CHEK_News pic.twitter.com/kNRiRsrAC4
— Kori Sidaway (@korisidaway) June 28, 2022
The Independent Investigations Office, which probes all police incidents resulting in death or serious injury, confirmed to CHEK News it is looking into Tuesday’s shootout.
Saanich Police say with many images and video of the incident floating around online, they have set up a “digital evidence collection portal” for witnesses to directly submit them to investigators.
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