Armed ERT unit was near Saanich bank on another call just before suspects emerged with guns, police chief says

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Saanich police Chief Dean Duthie speaks to reporters on Thursday but was unable to offer few new details two days after a deadly bank robbery. (Susana da Silva/CBC - image credit)
Saanich police Chief Dean Duthie speaks to reporters on Thursday but was unable to offer few new details two days after a deadly bank robbery. (Susana da Silva/CBC - image credit)

The Greater Victoria Emergency Response Team (GVERT) was nearby at an unrelated call and managed to quickly redeploy, arriving in time to engage two armed suspects who were shot dead earlier this week exiting a Saanich bank, the police department's chief told reporters at a news conference Thursday.

Saanich police Chief Dean Duthie said the ERT's tactical medical unit was able to render immediate assistance and credits their actions with saving the lives of at least three police officers wounded in the gunfight.

Duthie told reporters the team did an outstanding job tending to their wounds before they were taken to hospital.

Two suspects — whom Duthie said have still not been identified — were leaving the Bank of Montreal on Shelbourne Street as the tactical team arrived, he said, sparking a gunfight that left both robbery suspects dead and six officers wounded.

"We're working with the B.C. Coroner Service in order to positively identify the two male suspects," Duthie said Thursday.

Three of the wounded police officers remain in hospital. Duthie says the department has been moved by the community support and is deeply appreciative.

"On behalf of our injured officers, their family, friends and everyone in the police community, we thank everyone for their warm wishes."

Susana da Silva/CBC
Susana da Silva/CBC

RCMP spokesperson Alex Bérubé told the news conference the investigation is still in its early stages and could not provide further details on what firearms the suspects were carrying or the nature of the explosives found in a suspect's car. The explosives were later destroyed at a local landfill.

Bérubé described the vehicle as a four-door, white 1992 Toyota Camry with black racing stripes over the hood and roof and asked anyone with information about it or its movement before Tuesday to contact police.

CBC News
CBC News

He said investigators continue to process the "large" crime scene around the Bank of Montreal and asked members of the public and local businesses to continue being patient while the area is closed.

"This [investigation] takes considerable time and resources to complete," he said.

Police say they still haven't ruled out the possible involvement of a third suspect but have no information that would lead them to believe there is a danger to the public.

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