Friday, June 14, 2024

New details reveal Saanich bank robbers intended to ‘kill or injure’ as many officers as possible


Police held one final press conference on Friday regarding the deadly Bank of Montreal (BMO) shooting that took place in Saanich on June 28th, 2022. 

Members of VicPD, Saanich Police, BC RCMP and Vancouver Island Integrated Major Crimes Unit (VIIMCU) were present Friday to reveal details of their lengthy investigation of what led to the shooting that took place in Saanich last June. 

Six police officers with Saanich Police, VicPD and the Greater Victoria Emergency Response Team (GVERT) were critically injured in the shooting and the two suspects, Matthew and Isaac Auchterlonic were shot and killed by police in the exchange of gunfire. 

The twin brothers had been living and working together in Mill Bay prior to the shooting.

Over 200 police officers were involved in the investigation. They processed the scene gathering and analyzing evidence for five days following the shooting.

An Independent Investigations Office (IIO) report was published on December 21st, detailing what happened during the events of the shooting, but VIIMCU’s investigation was focussed on three aspects of the events prior to the shooting. 

Police investigated whether or not there was any third party involvement or if the brothers who were killed in the incident acted alone, what their motives were for the violence that ensued and if this incident was targeted or if it was a random act of violence.

Was a third party involved? 

Police have determined through a lengthy investigation that there was no third party involved. 

Although initial information on the day of the shooting suggested it was a possibility, investigators say they have eliminated any chance of a third party being involved.

Police achieved this by:

  • Looking into reported witness accounts
  • Eliminating the possibility that the brothers were using a two-way radio to communicate with a third party
  • Investigating a white van that was reported to be driving erratically soon after the shooting
  • Correcting initial media releases that suggested three suspects were involved
  • Canvassing the neighbourhood in which the suspects lived
  • Investigating the individuals seen wearing camouflage clothing near the scene in the following days
  • Looking into the vehicle that the brothers used and doing a thorough background check on its sales history

Following investigating all of the above evidence it was determined there was no third party involved.

Was it a targeted shooting?

After investigating the Auchterlonie brothers, their home and their backgrounds, police have determined that the BMO in Saanich and the Saanich Police were random targets.

After searching and investigating their home, evidence was found that suggested the brothers were planning a larger-scale act of violence in mid-2023. 

Evidence indicated they had been planning a shooting since 2019.

Police say that the duo had radical anti-authority, anti-government and anti-police views and that was part of their motivation behind their actions. 

What was the brothers’ motivation?

Police executed a search warrant on the residence of the Auchterlonie brothers on June 30th, 2022, two days after the shooting. There they found additional evidence used to verify they were the suspects. 

Also at their residence, police found evidence that would indicate the brothers held anti-police views and had been living reclusive lives.

Police say they were being made to move out of their current home that they lived at with their mother at the end of June. Police believe this may be why they moved their plan for a violent act up from mid-2023 to June of 2022.

The brothers had no past criminal record and had never been known to police—they had also been employed as manufacturers together until a week before the shooting when they quit.

“Copious amounts of evidence gathered from the scene of the shooting and the residence of the two suspects ultimately concludes that the two individuals were isolated from society and harbouring deep seated resentment and anger towards authority,” said Cpl. Alex Bérubé, BC RCMP Media Relations Officer.

“The individuals had been plotting an act of extreme violence since at least 2019 and were fully prepared for the consequences. The civilians inside the bank, while directly threatened and traumatized, were never the ultimate targets of the suspects.”

According to police, they had firearms licenses and had obtained the SKS rifles used in the shooting through legal means. 

They had in their possession at the time of the incident over 100 magazines that had been altered and more than 3,500 rounds of ammunition. Police believe all ammunition and magazines were also likely bought and obtained legally.

Police say the brothers did however make alterations to their firearms and the magazines that were illegal, such as extending the magazines capacity and altering one rifle’s serial number. 

They also had over 30 improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in the vehicle they used to get to the BMO in Saanich the day of the incident. 

The suspects’ timeline

Police were able to track the Auchterlonie brothers movements through their cell phone’s pinging and through video evidence collected. 

According to police, this is the determined timeline of what they did on June 28th:

  • 8:26 a.m. to 8:56 a.m. – Travelled from their residence in Mill Bay to Saanich
  • 9:06 a.m. to 10:21 a.m. – Drove in random “loops” around the scene of the shooting in Saanich 
  • 10:24 a.m. –  Drove up and down Pear Street in Saanich
  • 10:27 a.m. – Drove into the parking lot of the BMO where the shooting would happen, then drove away
  • 10:30 a.m. – Drove around the area as well as back in and immediately out of the BMO’s parking lot
  • 10:54 a.m. – Passed a bus which caught them on camera and parked one final time in the Shelbourne Street’s BMO parking lot.
  • Approximately 11:02 a.m. – Entered the bank
  • 11:18 a.m. – Exited bank and opened fire

Police conclusions

The VIIMCU concluded after gathering and considering all evidence pertaining to the Auchterlonie brothers that Saanich and the specific bank they chose for the site of the shooting were randomly selected the day of the incident.

Police say they also concluded that the brothers’ end goal was not the robbery. The VIIMCU believes the robbery was used as a vehicle to get a large police response and to injure or kill as many police officers as possible.

According to police, the Auchterlonie brothers went into the bank knowing they would not survive the shooting that would follow.

“This is an event that we will never forget,” said Chief Constable Dean Duthie. “That said, it is important how we choose to remember June 28th, 2022.”

“At Saanich, we are encouraging our officers and staff to remember this day as one that innocent lives were protected and saved by police officers. In doing this, we suffered great harm–physically, psychologically, and emotionally.” 

“This caused us to rely heavily on our vital partners throughout the region and province, including police, fire, ambulance, medical and psychological professionals to care for and treat officers directly and indirectly impacted by this traumatic event.”

Curtis Blandy

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