(Photo by Prashant Bhardwaj)

Local leaders say they’re commending police officers’ courage and selflessness, following Tuesday’s bank shooting in Saanich that left two suspects dead and six officers hospitalized with gunshot wounds.

Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes, together with Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps and Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins, released a joint statement on Wednesday, calling the incident at Bank of Montreal’s Shelbourne Street branch “a terrible and violent act.”

“When these kinds of actions happen, our police departments and our communities that support them are shaken to the core,” they said in the statement.

At around 11 a.m. on June 28th, officers with Saanich Police, the Greater Victoria Emergency Response Team (GVERT) and VicPD responded to a call that two armed men had entered the bank.

As multiple officers responded to the scene, a shootout ensued and two armed suspects fired at police. The pair was eventually shot dead by police.

Amid the crossfire, six GVERT officers—three from Saanich Police and three from VicPD—suffered gunshot wounds and were sent to hospital, some with serious injuries requiring surgery. 

“To the officers who were injured and to their families, our thoughts are with you, and we are sending love as you move through the following days, weeks and months in recovery,” said Haynes, Helps and Desjardins.

“We are humbled by your service, and we offer our heartfelt thanks for your courage as you stood in harm’s way to keep our communities safe.”

Helicopters, along with the GVERT, were dispatched to assist in locating a possible third suspect, with nearby residents given a Shelter in Place order for their safety. By 6 p.m., the order was repealed, but the area remained closed to foot and vehicle traffic.

Police also evacuated homes and businesses near the scene due to the presence of potential explosive devices that have since been disposed of safely, according to Saanich Police Chief Const. Dean Duthie.

READ MORE: Two suspects dead, six officers suffer gunshot wounds in Saanich bank robbery shootout

Haynes, Helps and Desjardins say the incident highlights the courage it takes to be a police officer and reinforces their selfless service.

“Finding ways to show support in the coming days and weeks is really important, and we encourage everyone to do so,” they added.

“To the police departments across our region and the province that have offered assistance, we thank you in advance for your help and support.”

Saanich Police echoed these comments on Twitter, thanking the public for the “overwhelming support and well wishes” for all Saanich and VicPD officers involved.

“Your kind words go a long way in difficult times like these, and we are sharing your comments with our officers. Thank you.”

Premier John Horgan said his thoughts were with those affected, as BC Safety Minister Mike Farnworth noted the incident serves as a “powerful reminder of the crucial role police officers play in keeping our neighbourhoods secure.”

“My government and I deeply appreciate their courage, professionalism and commitment,” said Farnworth in a statement.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also took to Twitter on Tuesday, saying he was “shocked and saddened by the violence,” adding he’s keeping the injured officers and their colleagues in his thoughts.

Saanich Police have scheduled a press conference for Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. outside its detachment, where Chief Const. Duthie will again be addressing the media. Victoria Buzz will stream the conference live on Facebook.

Latest update from police

Saanich Police provide update on Tuesday’s fatal bank shooting

Posted by Victoria Buzz on Wednesday, June 29, 2022

At a live press conference Wednesday, Saanich Police Chief Const. Dean Duthie and Sgt. Chris Manseau of BC RCMP provided updates regarding Tuesday’s fatal bank shooting which left six GVERT officers in hospital.

According to Duthie and Manseau, three officers have been released from hospital and are recovering at home with their families. 

Three others sustained life-threatening injuries at the time of the incident and remain in hospital following surgery. Two of the officers will require additional surgeries and treatment over the coming months.

Explosive devices were discovered during the incident in a vehicle associated with the suspects. On Wednesday afternoon, the explosive devices were transported to Hartland Landfill Facility by the BC RCMP Provincial Explosive Disposal Unit (EDU) and safely destroyed.

Some residents and businesses are still unable to return as officers continue to process the crime scene and Shelbourne Street, between Cedar Hill Cross Road and Donnelly Avenue, will remain closed today during the investigation.

Officers continue to investigate the potential of a third suspect involved in this incident. However, officers do not believe there is a risk to the public at this time.

Anyone with digital evidence related to the incident, including video or photos, is asked to upload the information online here.

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