On January 20, 2023, the Vancouver Island Integrated Crime Unit (VIIMCU) held a press conference to provide an update and concluding report on the investigative findings on the bank robbery and attempted murder of six Vancouver Island police officers by two individuals at the Bank of Montreal in Saanich on June 28, 2022.
The following are statements issued by the BC RCMP Major Crime Section, VIIMCU and SPD Chief Constable Dean Duthie.
Statement by Superintendent Sanjaya Wijayakoon
My name is Superintendent Sanjaya Wijayakoon, and I am with the BC RCMP Major Crime Section. I oversee the Vancouver Island Integrated Major Crime Unit.
This morning we are here as the Vancouver Island Integrated Major Crime Unit releases their findings into the armed robbery of a Bank of Montreal in Saanich. The events of that day left six Vancouver Island police officers wounded, and two suspects, dead.
First I want to say that my thoughts are with the staff of the BMO and the civilians who were inside. I recognize what a traumatic day of events unfolded. Saanich Police Department Victims Services continue to offer support to anyone who needs it as a result of the day’s events.
I want to thank the brave police officers and specialized units who put their lives on the line that day. Your actions and the courage you displayed saved countless innocent lives. To all officers who were affected as a result, our thoughts are with you and your families, as you continue on your road to recovery.
What occurred that day will have a lasting impact on all those involved, both the officers, and the community. We want to do our best to provide as much information to bring about a sense of closure without inciting others to take similar actions.
On the morning of June 28, 2022, two male suspects entered a Bank of Montreal clad in full body armor, and armed with semi-automatic SKS rifles. When the first officers arrived on the scene from the Saanich PD, there was an armed robbery in progress and 22 innocent people were inside the bank.
After an extensive and thorough investigation, we are now in a position to confirm that the suspects acted alone, were prepared for significant violence, and they were motivated by anti-authority beliefs.
Over 200 officers from various police agencies and units, including Saanich Police Department, Victoria Police Department, multiple RCMP units were involved in both the initial response and subsequent investigation.
Corporal Bérubé is here to give a more fulsome explanation of VIIMCU’s findings. The criminal aspect of this investigation is now concluded but we will continue to support any of the agencies involved with their investigations as well as the BC Coroner’s Service.
Once again, I reiterate that we are here to support everyone involved and the community as we move past this terrifying act of violence and work towards healing.
Superintendent Sanjaya Wijayakoon
Vancouver Island Integrated Major Crime Unit (VIIMCU)
Today the Vancouver Island Integrated Major Crime Unit (VIIMCU) released their investigative findings on the bank robbery and attempted murder of Vancouver Island police officers by two individuals in Saanich, BC in June of 2022.
On the morning of June 28, 2022, two armed suspects entered a bank in Saanich with the intention of causing serious harm.
At 11:02 am, two male suspects entered the Bank of Montreal branch located in the 3600 block of Shelbourne Street, Saanich.
Both suspects wore balaclavas, were clad in full body armor, and were armed with semi-automatic SKS rifles.
Officers from the Saanich Police Department responded to 911 calls from inside and outside the bank. On arrival officers observed an armed robbery in progress and established containment of the area surrounding the bank.
The Greater Victoria Emergency Response Team (GVERT) was in the area on an unrelated matter, also attended the call to provide support to the initial responding frontline officers.
As the two suspects exited the bank, GVERT members drove into the BMO parking lot and an exchange of gunfire occurred. The two suspects – who were later identified as twin brothers, Isaac and Matthew Auchterlonie both 22 years-old from Duncan – were shot by police in the exchange and both succumbed to their injuries at the scene.
Six police officers were also wounded by gunfire, three Victoria Police Department officers and three Saanich Police Department officers; all members of GVERT. The officers were taken to hospital and treated for their injuries.
VIIMCU assumed conduct of the criminal investigation into the robbery and the attempted murder of police officers. The primary objective of the investigators was to determine if any other party or parties were involved in the planning and/or execution of the incident.
Despite previous speculations, there was no evidence found to suggest any third party was involved.
It was determined the suspects’ primary objective was to shoot and kill police officers in what they saw as a stand against government regulations, especially in relation to firearms ownership.
The initial response and subsequent investigation included support from numerous police agencies, including Saanich Police Department, Victoria Police Department, multiple RCMP units such as Air Services, Major Crime Sections, Explosive Disposal Unit and the Emergency Response Team.
Multiple other police units were engaged to assist with the large-scale investigation, including the National Weapons Enforcement Support Team (NWEST), the E Division Integrated National Security Enforcement Team and the RCMP Behavioural Analysis Unit (BAU), totalling over 200 police officers involved in this investigation.
There were 22 civilians inside the bank, who were bank employees as well as customers. Video surveillance showed the two armed suspects, clad in body armor, entered the bank at 11:02 am, prompting multiple calls to police. The suspects were inside the bank for just over 16 minutes. Surveillance footage captured them on several occasions going back to the front vestibule and looking outside before going back inside the bank. Surveillance footage also showed one suspect discharging his rifle inside the bank. The time spent in the bank and their actions made it apparent to police that the objective of the robbery was not to obtain money, but rather to generate an armed confrontation with police.
Following the aftermath, and in the course of the investigation, police learned calls had been made to police dispatch by witnesses shortly after the incident with reports that a white van had been seen driving erratically in the area around the time of the robbery and shootout. These reports, it was later determined, had been sightings of the unmarked GVERT van en route to the robbery and not affiliated with the suspects.
Police did learn, however, the suspects purchased a vehicle a few days prior to the robbery and shootout: a white 4-door 1992 Toyota Camry with two distinctive black racing stripes from the hood to the trunk, registered to one of the suspects.
In the trunk of the Camry, police discovered in excess of 30 Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). Four additional firearms and over 3500 rounds of ammunition were also recovered. A NWEST analysis concluded both the suspects held valid Possession and Acquisition Licenses (PALs) for both non-restricted and restricted firearms.
During the investigation, a CCTV video canvass was completed at hundreds of businesses and residences around the area of the shooting. In total, video was obtained from 52 different sources, including numerous locations around the bank. This also included video spanning from the area near the suspects’ residence and the path used by them to get to the area of the shooting.
A search was conducted at the residence where the suspects lived. Multiple improvised explosive devices were located, as well as materials used to manufacture the explosive devices. EDU members advised that the explosives appeared home made and were not sophisticated. There was no evidence that the explosives had been obtained from outside sources, but had rather been manufactured by the suspects. The explosives recovered from the Toyota Camry closely matched the appearance of those found at the residence and they appeared to be from the same source.
While the suspects were not known to police, evidence at the scene indicated the suspects held strong anti-government, anti-police, and anti-authority views. Personal annotations were recovered expressing their outrage at the restriction of their access to firearm and body armour.
Through careful analysis of evidence gathered, investigators believe that the suspects’ original plan was to have the shootout in mid-2023 at an unknown location, but they moved up the date due to having to move out of the house in which they lived. The suspects concluded that they could not move their arsenal of weapons to a new location without attracting attention and thus selected the bank location at random.
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. 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. The armed robbery was used to generate a police response with the ultimate goal of inflicting damage. The action of the officers on that day, saved countless lives.
Cpl. Alex Bérubé
District Advisory NCO (Media Relations), Island District
Statement by Chief Constable Dean Duthie
I would like to start by expressing my sincere thanks to you, our media contacts, for being here today. Your ongoing support, patience, and compassion has been greatly appreciated as this extensive and complex investigation progressed. I would also like to acknowledge and extend my appreciation to the Shelbourne Bank of Montreal staff and customers, the residents of Saanich, Greater Victoria, and throughout the Province of BC for your patience and understanding as this important investigation progressed over the past seven months. I know that many questions have gone unanswered until today, and it is my hope that the information that you now know can assist you move forward with a healthy degree of closure and clarity. Please rest assured that the outpouring of public support has had a tremendous and positive impact on all police, emergency personnel, and BMO employees and customers. For this, we are all very thankful.
On behalf of the Saanich Police Board, Senior Leadership Team, and the entire Saanich Police Department, it is my honour to express our sincere gratitude and appreciation to the RCMP and Vancouver Island Integrated Major Crime Unit for the professional, thorough, accountable, and detailed investigation that was completed under stressful, unique, and challenging circumstances. It is important to recognize and appreciate that the nature of this investigation was not only lengthy and complex, as most VIIMCU investigations are – this one also impacted investigators on a deep emotional level. Their courage, mindfulness, resilience, and stress management were tested and re-tested over an extended period of time, which can and does have a significant impact to personal health and wellness. The respective leaders from all police organizations that participate in VIIMCU fully support these investigators and this will not change.
I would like to conclude by stating the obvious – this is an event that we will never forget. 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.
We will absolutely continue to support and care for each other throughout our personal, team, and organization’s recovery. As we do this, we are looking into the future together with inspiration, pride, and optimism to ensure that we continue to grow and strengthen as a healthy organization, while we provide professional and caring police service to you – our community.
Chief Constable Dean Duthie
Saanich Police Department