A Saanich, B.C., police officer who suffered multiple gunshot wounds in a shootout with two heavily armed bank robbers on June 28 was released from Victoria General Hospital Wednesday morning, 71 days after he was first admitted.
The officer's name and injuries are not being released. He is the last of the six members of the Greater Victoria Emergency Response Team (GVERT) hurt in the gunfight to be released from hospital.
Members of the GVERT shot and killed brothers Mathew and Isaac Auchterlonie, 22, as they tried to get away after robbing the Bank of Montreal on Shelbourne Street in Saanich. Police said explosives were found in the brothers' car, but investigators have released few details, including a suspected motive.
Saanich police Chief Dean Duthie said all officers who suffered gunshot wounds were injured by the brothers and not hit accidentally by fellow police during the heavy exchange of bullets.
According to Duthie, the officer released from hospital Wednesday is facing considerable rehabilitation after undergoing multiple surgeries. It's not known if he will ever return to active duty.
Police, firefighters, paramedics, health-care workers and friends gathered at the hospital to celebrate his recovery.
"To watch our officer actually step out of the hospital with a smile on his face while being embraced by his family ... he actually took some steps outside of the door with assistance. This is a huge undertaking considering the injuries he suffered," said Duthie.
Two other Saanich police officers were hurt in the gunfight. Duthie said one has returned to active duty while the other was released from hospital a few weeks ago.
Additional psychological counselling has been offered to Saanich PD members in the aftermath of the shooting to ensure they are fit for duty.
"A lot of officers want to get back to work and feel ready even though they may not be ready," said Duthie.
"They want to return, they want to be a part of the team and serve the public, but they may put that drive and commitment before realizing their own health in terms of psychological or mental health issues they've encountered."
Vancouver Island's Integrated Major Crime Unit (VIIMCU) is conducting the bank robbery investigation. The Independent Investigations Office (IIO) — the civilian-led oversight body which reviews all police actions that result in death or serious harm — is also investigating.