Three Greater Victoria Emergency Response Team (GVERT) members injured in an exchange of gunfire outside a Saanich bank Tuesday remain in hospital recovering from extensive surgeries, while three other injured officers have been released.
The updated condition of the six male officers – three from the Saanich department and three from Victoria – was given at a media briefing at Saanich police headquarters on Wednesday afternoon.
“Three officers have been released from hospital after receiving medical care and are now recovering at home with their families,” said Chief Const. Dean Duthie, flanked by senior police officials from the Saanich and Victoria departments.
The other three sustained what were initially considered life-threatening injuries, he added. One remains in the intensive care unit and will, along with another officer still in hospital, require additional surgeries and treatment over the coming months.
The officers all suffered gunshot wounds in an exchange with two armed men who were leaving the BMO bank at Shelbourne and Pear streets. The two bank robbery suspects were shot dead by police.
While police continue to investigate the possibility of a third suspect, Wednesday’s update revealed no further information has been uncovered indicating a risk to the public. Duthie had said on Tuesday “vague information” about the potential third suspect lead to a shelter-in-place advisory being placed on a wide area around the crime scene, before it was lifted that evening.
An explosive device found Tuesday in a vehicle associated with the suspects has been secured by the BC RCMP explosive disposal unit, who transported it to the Hartland landfill Wednesday to be destroyed, Duthie said.
The Vancouver Island Integrated Major Crimes Unit (VIIMCU) has taken over the criminal investigation, while B.C.’s police oversight agency, the Independent Investigation Office (IIO) is looking into police actions during the incident.
As the area around the bank remains an active crime scene, many nearby businesses remain closed and behind police tape, including the entirety of Shelbourne Plaza and those along the west side of Shelbourne Street between Pear Street and Church Avenue.
Shelbourne remained closed to traffic and pedestrians between Cedar Hill Cross Road and Donnelly Avenue and all side streets in between had no access to Shelbourne. No timeline could be determined for reopening businesses until the investigation is further along, the chief said.
Little new information about the still-early investigation was revealed at the Wednesday press conference, including the identification of the two dead men, the timeline of the incident and whether the police recovered stolen money from the bank. Duthie deferred questions about the investigation to VIIMCU spokesperson RCMP Sgt. Chris Manseau, who promised media that more information would be provided as it became available.
“Everybody’s seen the videos online, we’re still sifting through mountains of evidence that’s coming forward all the time. More information will be relayed in the future but at this time I can’t speak to specifics on it,” Manseau said.
Asked about the quick response of GVERT to the scene, Duthie said they were on another unrelated operation at the time and responded to the bank situation as it was a higher priority.
Members of the public with video of the incident is asked to submit it to saanichpd.ca.evidence.com/axon/citizen/public/22-12262. Anyone with information who has not yet spoken to police is asked to call the VIIMCU information line at 250-380-6211.
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