What we know about the deadly bank robbery in Saanich, B.C.

·6 min read
Flowers from members of the public are seen on Thursday, June 30, 2022 outside the entrance of Saanich Police Department, after six officers were wounded in a bank robbery two days earlier. (Susana da Silva/CBC - image credit)
Flowers from members of the public are seen on Thursday, June 30, 2022 outside the entrance of Saanich Police Department, after six officers were wounded in a bank robbery two days earlier. (Susana da Silva/CBC - image credit)

This story was last updated on July 7, 2022.

Police are still investigating an attempted robbery at a Bank of Montreal in Saanich, B.C., late in the morning on Tuesday, June 28.

Two armed suspects were killed, and six officers from the Greater Victoria Emergency Response Team (GVERT) were injured during an exchange of gunfire outside the bank on Tuesday.

Police found — and later safely detonated — explosives in a nearby car the suspects were believed to have used.

Vancouver Island's Integrated Major Crime Unit (VIIMCU) has taken over the investigation, and the Independent Investigations Office — the oversight body which reviews all police actions that result in death or serious harm — is also looking into what happened.

Here's what we know.

Where and how did the incident at the bank start?

According to Saanich Chief Const. Dean Duthie, the first 911 call came in at 11:02 a.m. on Tuesday, June 28.

Minutes later, GVERT officers and members of the Victoria and Saanich Police departments responded to reports that two armed men had entered a bank on the 3600-block of Shelbourne Street.

Videos recorded by bystanders show police running toward the building, guns drawn, with some hiding behind vehicles and bushes as shots rang out. Several witnesses sheltering in place said they saw and heard dozens of gunshots in rapid succession as the suspects exchanged gunfire with police.

Chad Hipolito/The Canadian Press
Chad Hipolito/The Canadian Press

Police said the shooting started outside the bank, though it wasn't immediately clear who shot first. The bank is in a largely residential neighbourhood of Saanich, about a kilometre west of the University of Victoria campus, near the southeastern tip of Vancouver Island.

Chief Duthie said a GVERT team happened to be in the area at the time "on an entirely separate and unrelated investigation" and was able to go to the bank right away.

What do we know about the suspects?

Police on Saturday, July 2, identified Mathew and Isaac Auchterlonie, 22, as the two suspects shot by police outside the bank on Tuesday.

The Auchterlonie brothers were from Duncan, B.C., a city on Vancouver Island about 60 kilometres northwest of Victoria. According to RCMP, the brothers were not previously known to police and didn't have criminal records.

The motive behind the armed robbery has not been determined yet, according to police, but one Canadian criminologist says it appears the brothers were prepared for and perhaps "actively seeking" some kind of shootout.

Isaac Auchterlonie's Instagram account, which has since been deleted, was full of gun photos, war references and video of him and his brother in camouflage shooting rifles in the forest.

Police initially described the brothers as twins. But CBC News has since confirmed they were, in fact, triplets, with a sister, according to multiple sources who know the siblings.

RCMP Cpl. Alex Bérubé said the brothers were driving a white, four-door, 1992 Toyota Camry with two black racing stripes over the hood and the roof. Anyone who saw a car matching that description in the week leading up to the incident is asked to contact the police.

Submitted by Vancouver Island Integrated Major Crime Unit
Submitted by Vancouver Island Integrated Major Crime Unit

Police have said the suspects were armed and were believed to have been wearing body armour — a detail corroborated by several witnesses.

Shelli Fryer was one of 22 people inside the bank that day. She told CBC it was her first visit to that branch, and she was meeting with a branch manager in his office when he calmly told her the bank was being robbed.

"I look up, and in the doorway is a guy standing there with an assault rifle," she said. "[Wearing a] balaclava, vest, some guards on his legs."

WATCH | Witness recounts atmosphere at Saanich bank: 

Fryer said the person she saw in the doorway asked the manager to bring them to the bank's vault, and afterward, she heard the suspects whispering to each other while walking in the hallway.

"They were waiting for something. Pacing quietly, like a country walk," she said.

Fryer said she was left alone for five to 10 minutes inside the office. During that time, she pulled out her cellphone and called 911.

"Why were [the suspects] waiting? What were they doing?" she wondered. "They could have taken the money and gone."

CBC News
CBC News

What do we know about the police who were injured?

Six police officers were injured during the exchange of gunfire between the suspects and police. Three officers were back home with their families by the following day.

According to Saanich police, the three other officers sustained serious injuries — as of June 30, one was still in the ICU.

All the wounded officers are part of the GVERT, but three work for the Victoria Police Department, while the other three work with the Saanich Police Department.

Two of the officers who remained in hospital were members of the Saanich Police Department while the third was a member of the Victoria Police Department.

Chief Duthie said other officers did "outstanding work" tending to their injured colleagues at the scene. He credited them with saving the lives of at least three officers.

On Tuesday, July 5, police in Saanich provided an update on their injured officers' conditions. At that time, they said both remained in hospital — one in stable condition and the other in intensive care after three separate surgeries.

"The injuries are significant, but the recovery process has started. It's not over, by any means — it's going to be a very long road," Duthie said.

That same day, the Victoria Police Department confirmed one of their officers was also still in hospital.

Duthie said he had planned to release the officers' names but changed his mind after speaking with their families.

"More real deep thinking of the potential impact of having identities released at this point in time made me reconsider. My emphasis and my priority, as the community is, is on the health and wellness of these people," he said, sentiments which were echoed by the Victoria Police Department.

"Honestly, we're still hurting and healing here. We'll revisit sharing that information in the future," VPD spokesperson Bowen Osoko said in an email.

Is there a third suspect?

On the day of the attempted robbery, police put a shelter-in-place advisory for several blocks on either side of the bank, saying they were looking for a potential third person involved in the robbery. The advisory was lifted at 6 p.m. that same evening.

Fryer said she saw three suspects inside the bank.

Police have said they do not have any information leading them to believe there's any danger to the public, but they still haven't ruled out the possibility of a third suspect.

Kevin Light/REUTERS
Kevin Light/REUTERS

What about the explosives?

Bérubé said an RCMP explosive disposal unit dealt with the "highly volatile ... and dangerous" situation and that a number of firearms were found at the site.

He said multiple "improvised explosive devices" were found inside the Toyota Camry believed to be linked to the suspects.

The bombs were examined by the RCMP team, placed inside safe containers and then brought to the Saanich dump for disposal.

When will we know more?

Vancouver Island's Integrated Major Crime Unit has taken over the investigation. The Independent Investigations Office of B.C., the oversight body which reviews all police actions that result in death or serious harm, is also looking into what happened.

On July 5, Chief Duthie of the Saanich Police Department deferred questions on the progress of the investigation to the major crime unit.

Police have said they can only share information with the public if they're certain it won't jeopardize the ongoing investigations or contaminate the memories of witnesses who still have to be interviewed.