Six police officers are in hospital with gunshot wounds and two suspects were killed Tuesday after a shooting at a bank in Saanich, BC.
As of Tuesday afternoon, police continue to ask people in the area from North Dairy Road to Cedar Hill Cross Road and between Richmond Road to Cedar Hill Cross Road to take shelter while heavily armed officers search for a possible third suspect.
Nearby homes and businesses were also evacuated amid concerns about a possible explosive device in a car linked to one of the suspects.
Multiple officers from Saanich Police, VicPD and the Greater Victoria Emergency Response Team (GVERT) responded to the report of armed suspects at a bank at 3600 block of Shelbourne Street around 11 a.m. PDT.
When officers arrived, the two armed suspects began firing at the police, according to a joint statement by the Saanich and Victoria police forces.
“Two suspects were shot by the police and died on the spot,” the police said.
According to police, no members of the public, including bank employees or customers, were injured in the incident.
Three of the six officers shot dead are members of the Saanich Police Force, while the other three are members of the Victoria Police Department.
“At this point, we expect some officers to be released after emergency treatment, while others suffered very serious injuries and underwent surgery,” said Saanich Police Chief Const. Dean Duthie during a live press conference Tuesday afternoon.
“We will give you further updates on the condition of all agents,” he said.
“We will keep their families informed and we are doing everything we can to support them, as well as all our employees.”
‘RUN FOR MY LIFE’
Witness Brenda Boyd told CTV News she was walking near the intersection of Shelbourne and Pear streets when around 11:30 a.m. she heard at least 25 to 50 gunshots and saw smoke outside the Bank of Montreal.
“But I didn’t count. I was just running, running for my life,” she said.
A police officer, hiding behind some bushes, yelled at her to leave the area immediately, she said.
The witness said she saw at least three people being taken to waiting ambulances on stretchers.
Saanich police respond to the incident at the Bank of Montreal on June 28, 2022. (CTV News)
BC Emergency Health Services says paramedics were called to the 11:21 am shooting
Seven ambulances arrived and took five patients to hospital. Doctors remained in the “standby” area after 2 p.m.
Another witness to the gunfire said he was at a nearby bike shop when he saw “two police officers being shot” and saw another person lying on the ground in a nearby parking lot.
“It was just awful,” said Fabien Cousineau. “They dragged police officers after a police van.”
All traffic was diverted on Tuesday afternoon to leave police vehicles and medical personnel at the scene.
At about 1:30 p.m., Saanich police said they were evacuating homes and businesses near the scene “due to the presence of a possible explosive device”.
Saanich police have confirmed that several people were injured in the incident. (CTV news)
‘IT WAS FAST GUN WEATHER’
Cleo Gagner and her 15-year-old son were buying cat food at a veterinary clinic near the Bank of Montreal on Shelbourne Street when she said they heard something that sounded like two shots.
“Boom, boom,” she told CTV News in the minutes after the incident. “And then it was rapid gunfire. Multiple gunshots from multiple shooters.”
She estimated that they heard 40 to 50 shots in quick succession.
“Then a police officer from Saanich started driving to the MET with his door open,” she said. “He gets out of his vehicle, pulls out his gun… and then the gunfire escalated and he pulled back.”
The woman said she and her son ran back to the vet’s office and sought shelter until it became quiet outside.
Saanich Police outside the Bank of Montreal on Shelbourne Street on June 28, 2022. (Joan B. Flood/Twitter)
A spokesperson for BMO says the company is “deeply saddened” by the incident.
“The safety and security of our customers and employees is our priority and our thoughts are with every person affected by today’s events,” said spokesman Jeff Roman.
“We thank the emergency services for their prompt assistance and for their contribution to the safety of the public.”
Witness video obtained by CTV News shows a group of police officers gathering behind a nearby restaurant before storming down the street in a hail of audible gunfire.
Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes said in a short statement on his Twitter account on Tuesday: “Our hearts go out to our officers, bank staff and residents… no words can describe how appalling this is.”
This is a story in development. Come back for updates.