Explosive devices found in vehicle connected to Saanich robbers killed

Three of the police officers remain in hospital after Tuesday’s shootout, with one officer who will require more surgeries.

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SAANICH — Multiple explosive devices were found in a vehicle connected to two robbery suspects who were gunned down outside a bank in Saanich.

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Saanich Chief Const. Dean Duthie said Wednesday an RCMP explosive disposal unit was able to transfer the devices from the vehicle to a local landfill and destroy them.

Police had evacuated the area shortly after the shooting on Tuesday as the explosives unit was called in.

Six officers were shot and two suspects were killed in the gunfight with police on Tuesday.

Duthie said three of the officers remain in hospital, including one who is in intensive care, while another officer will require more surgeries.

He had spoken with one of the officers in hospital and said the police department will be there to support him.

“We’re here for his family … just to let him know that the policing community is behind him 100 per cent.”

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The chief said police are still investigating the possibility of a third suspect, although they don’t believe there is a risk to the public.

He said police were acting on vague information.

“Our goal was to keep the public safe,” he said of police ordering residents near the bank to stay inside on Tuesday.

Police said in a statement that they aren’t able to confirm identities, background or motive of the suspects.

Work is underway to try to confirm the suspects’ names.

Duthie has looked at much of the video footage of the incident and said it is a miracle no one else had been killed.

“It’s astonishing that there was no other citizen or member of the public injured,” he said, crediting the quick actions of officers who responded.

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“Both patrol officers and Greater Victoria emergency response officers (put) themselves in harm’s way to bring it to a successful and safe conclusion as quickly as possible.”

General view of the site where two armed suspects died and six police officers were shot, during an incident at a bank in Saanich, British Columbia, Canada June 28, 2022 in this picture obtained from social media. Joan B Flood/via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES.
General view of the site where two armed suspects died and six police officers were shot, during an incident at a bank in Saanich, British Columbia, Canada June 28, 2022 in this picture obtained from social media. Joan B Flood/via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES. Photo by Joan B Flood /via REUTERS

A woman trapped inside the bank during the robbery told CFAX radio she was in a meeting with the manager when she heard a loud explosion and then silence.

Shelli Fryer, 59, of Langford, said she looked from the doorway and a few feet from her was “a man in full assault gear, holding an assault rifle.”

Fryer said the masked man was wearing all black, had an armoured vest over his jacket, and was holding a black rifle that was shorter and stockier than what she was used to seeing in the media.

“The energy from them was completely calm,” she said.

She heard one gunman quietly say to the manager, “Vault,” and the manager handed him the keys and they both walked out of the office, she said.

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Fryer said the other suspect was pacing the floor, just walking back and forth past the office, “like he was going for a walk in the park, just pacing as if he was waiting for something.”

The robbers put all 22 people who were in the bank against a wall in a back hallway and they waited for what felt like an eternity, she said. “We heard nothing at all of what was transpiring outside. We couldn’t hear sirens.”

She heard in a loud voice, “Police!” and then a hail of gunfire, and everybody ran to hide.

Fryer said every one of the police officers involved in the “absolutely insane incident” handled themselves professionally, and then later treated those who were in the bank with kindness and concern.

Police and paramedics respond to a bank robbery at the Bank of Montreal at Shelbourne and Pear streets Tuesday where multiple people were injured in a shootout.

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Violent, armed bank robberies are a rarity in Canada, said Robert Gordon, a Simon Fraser University professor of criminology.

Gordon said the suspects may have targeted the bank based on information about an unusual or large amount of cash on the premises, possibly a Brink’s delivery or cash payroll.

“Maybe they had some inside knowledge of a shipment of some kind sitting in that bank. There had to be something in that bank they thought was worth grabbing,” said Gordon.

Although In 2013, sociologist Frederick Desroches predicted an end to bank robberies, thanks to the growing transition to a cashless society, improved surveillance and better policing, robberies still happen in cases where criminals have advance knowledge of a large “target” at the bank.

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“The flow of information on the movement of money is a challenge for any security organization,” said Gordon. “We still get these overnight robberies where there is some target in the bank that is worth having, where they will spend a lot of time planning it, breaking into the vault or strong room. These are unusual cases, but they do happen.”

Such operations require careful planning and would normally be executed by “skilled or knowledgeable” groups. Gordon said the culprits in the Saanich robbery looked like “amateurs”.

“The days of the masked bandits rushing into the bank and waving pistols is long gone,” said Gordon. “Banks no longer hold large amounts of cash. Security in banks is much harder than it used to be — there are panic buttons, CCTV, and other sophisticated methods of trapping and caging people inside of banks.”

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“Low-prize” robberies, on the other hand, are not uncommon, where bank robbers target tellers for the small amounts of cash they keep in the drawers. Typically, banks counsel tellers not to resist and to hand over cash when asked.

Police and paramedics respond to a bank robbery at the Bank of Montreal at Shelbourne and Pear streets Tuesday where multiple people were injured in a shootout.

dryan@postmedia.com


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