Six police officers are in hospital with gunshot wounds and two suspects are killed after a shooting at a bank in Sanich, B.C., on Tuesday.
Several officers from Sanich Police, Victoria Police and the Greater Victoria Emergency Response Team (GVERT) responded to reports of armed suspects at a bank in the 3600 block of Shelborne Street around 11 a.m. PDT.
When officers arrived, two armed suspects opened fire on police, according to a joint statement from the Saanich and Victoria police departments.
“The police shot two suspects and died on the spot,” the police said.
According to the joint statement, no member of the public, including bank employees or customers, was injured in the incident.
Of the six officers shot, three are members of the Sanich Police Department, while the other three are members of the Victoria Police Department.
“At this time we anticipate that some officers will be released after emergency treatment, while other officers have very serious injuries and have undergone surgery,” said Saanich Police Chief Const. Dean Duthy at a live news conference Tuesday afternoon.
“We will provide you with as many updates on the status of all officers as we can,” he said.
“We are keeping their families updated and we are doing everything we can to support them as well as all of our employees.”
Sanich Police’s response to the incident at the Bank of Montreal on June 28, 2022. (CTV News)
At around 1:30 a.m. PDT, police asked area residents to shelter at home as officers searched for a possible third suspect, and investigated a possible explosive device inside a car belonging to a suspect.
At around 6 p.m. PDT, police removed shelters in place and said there was no further indication that a third suspect was involved in the incident.
The area remained closed to traffic on Tuesday evening, however, after a team from the BC mainland assessed a possible explosive.
Sanich’s police chief says Tuesday’s daylight shooting was the most violent incident in the community in his nearly 27 years of service.
‘running for my life’
Witness Brenda Boyd told CTV News she was walking near the intersection of Shelbourne and Pier Streets when she heard at least 25 to 50 gunshots and saw smoke outside the Bank of Montreal around 11:30 a.m.
“But I wasn’t counting. I was just going, running for my life,” she said.
He said a police officer hiding behind some bushes asked him to leave the area immediately.
Witnesses said he saw at least three people being carried on stretchers and taken in ambulances.
BC Emergency Health Services says paramedics were called to shoot at 11:21 a.m.
Seven ambulances responded to the scene and took five patients to the hospital. Physicians remain in the “standby” area after 2 p.m.
Another eyewitness to the shooting said he was at a nearby bike shop when he saw “two policemen shooting” and another man lying on the ground in a nearby parking lot.
“It was awful,” said Fabian Cousin. “They were dragging the policemen behind a police van.”
All traffic was still being diverted from the area to allow police vehicles and medical personnel to reach the site on Tuesday afternoon.
The Sanich police have confirmed that several people were injured in the incident. (CTV News)
‘It was rapid gunfire’
Cleo Gagner and her 15-year-old son were buying cat food at a veterinary clinic near the Bank of Montreal on Shelborne Street when they said they heard what sounded like two bullets.
“Boom, boom,” he told CTV News within minutes of the incident. “And then it was rapid firing. Multiple bullets from multiple shooters.”
He estimated that he heard 40 to 50 shots in rapid succession.
“Then a Sanich police officer opened his door and started moving towards BMO,” she said. “He gets out of his vehicle, draws his gun … and then the bullets intensify and he retreats.”
The woman said she and her son ran back to the vet’s office and took shelter until things calmed down.
Sanich Police outside the Bank of Montreal on Shelborne Street on June 28, 2022. (Joan B. Flood/Twitter)
A spokesperson for BMO says the company is “deeply saddened” by the incident.
“The safety of our customers and employees is our priority, and our thoughts are with everyone affected by today’s events,” said spokesman Jeff Roman.
“We thank emergency responders for their prompt assistance and helping to keep the public safe.”
Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes said in a brief statement on his Twitter account on Tuesday: “Our condolences to our officers, bank employees and residents … no words can describe how appalling this is.”
Main const. Duthi says he is grateful that no member of the public was injured.
“All that happened and what I’ve told you, and that sad, chaotic, dramatic scene that I know of, the fact that no civilians were injured in any way, is really astonishing and I I am very grateful for this,” he said. ,
“Again, officers were injured because they were doing what they signed up to do, to protect the public, to respond to danger, to keep people safe.”
Duthie said the Saanich Police Department and its law enforcement colleagues in neighboring jurisdictions are still ready to respond to any further calls for the service, and the organization wants to support everyone involved.
BC’s Independent Investigative Office has been informed about the incident and has started its investigation.
A police watchdog group is called in when an incident involving the police results in serious injury or death, even if an allegation of wrongdoing has been made.