Crime
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

‘A hail of bullets’: Witnesses describe Shelbourne Street armed robbery and police shootout

Two suspects dead, six police officers injured in aftermath of Tuesday standoff

Crime
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

‘A hail of bullets’: Witnesses describe Shelbourne Street armed robbery and police shootout

Two suspects dead, six police officers injured in aftermath of Tuesday standoff

James MacDonald / Capital Daily
James MacDonald / Capital Daily
Crime
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

‘A hail of bullets’: Witnesses describe Shelbourne Street armed robbery and police shootout

Two suspects dead, six police officers injured in aftermath of Tuesday standoff

Get the news and events in Victoria, in your inbox every morning.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
‘A hail of bullets’: Witnesses describe Shelbourne Street armed robbery and police shootout
James MacDonald / Capital Daily

Jackson Grasky was going for a slice of pizza at Oregano’s when he saw the first police officer carrying an assault rifle Tuesday morning. Within minutes, seven squad cars had arrived at the Shelbourne Street Plaza near Pear Street. Soon, there were K-9 units and armored response teams gathering and running, guns drawn, toward the Bank of Montreal across the street.

A team of bank robbers was holding up a teller at the BMO, someone in the plaza parking lot told him.

Grasky and a friend, Brody Pepper, managed to get back into their car before the shooting started. That’s when he began recording on his cellphone.

“You guys need to get the fuck out of here,” an officer told them.

Grasky’s dramatic video, showing police running down the street and firing weapons, has since circulated worldwide. More than 20 gunshots sounded in the 18 seconds that Grasky recorded. 

Police confirmed two suspects are dead following the shootout, and six officers were shot. There are further unconfirmed reports that one officer is fighting for his life.

‘This is something that shakes a community’

Chief Constable Dean Duthie has spent nearly three decades with the Saanich Police Department. He told reporters “there’s been nothing” in that time that has come close to what he witnessed Tuesday.

“This is something that shakes a community,” he said, adding he’d received phone calls of support from chiefs of police “throughout the province.”

James MacDonald / Capital Daily

The first word of an armed robbery came from Saanich Police just before 11:30am. The police service posted on Twitter about a “police incident” in the 3600 block of Shelbourne Street, asking people to avoid the area. 

By noon, Saanich police confirmed they had been responding to a report of “armed suspects” at a bank, and that “multiple people [were] injured” after an exchange of gunfire. They advised anyone between North Dairy Road, Cedar Hill Road, Cedar Hill Cross Road, and Richmond Road to shelter in place, telling residents to “please stay in your homes.”

Shortly after, police began evacuating nearby homes and businesses near the bank “due to the presence of a potential explosive device.”

Police ordered residents between Cedar Hill Road and Richmond Road to shelter in place for much of Tuesday afternoon. Map from Google. Illustration: Jimmy Thomson / Capital Daily

‘I watched two cops get shot’

Christopher Lee Ford, who lives in the area, was at home with his wife and daughter when the shooting started.

“My daughter was doing some schoolwork at the table trying to catch up on some math stuff over the summer. And all of a sudden we heard shots,” he told Capital Daily. “At first I thought it was fireworks, so I ran to the window and looked outside. And it was just a hail of bullets whizzing past everywhere, and the cops had the whole place locked down. [I] got my wife and daughter underneath the table in the dining room at the furthest corner of the house from where the shooting was happening.”

He watched as officers swarmed the area.

James MacDonald / Capital Daily

“The SWAT team showed up, the tactical team showed up. They had M4’s [carbine rifles]. It was a good five to 10 minute firefight,” he said. “I watched two cops get shot.”

Kam Brar was working at the Lifeline Animal Clinic down the street from the bank when the shootout began. The clinic’s front windows face out onto Shelbourne and up toward the Pear Street intersection. He told Capital Daily when the shooting started, about “five or six” passersby came in and took shelter. His staff closed the blinds, locked the doors, and ushered people into the back of the clinic.

“We didn’t know what was happening,” he said.

Brar says they waited until about 2:30pm before they could evacuate beyond the police perimeter. As they left, “a whole bunch of police walked past us with guns,” he told Capital Daily.

Photographer James MacDonald, reporting for Capital Daily, noted the presence of more than two dozen police vehicles in the area, marked with RCMP and Saanich Police decals. Blood dripped from a white van beside the bank.

James MacDonald / Capital Daily

Emileigh Pearson lives next door to where the shootout happened. She was having a late breakfast in her kitchen when the shooting began. 

“I walked out of the front door and could smell the gunpowder,” she said. At that time, the incident was still very much active—as it continued to be into the early evening—but she was short on information. 

“There was a lot of really mixed information,” she said. Saanich PD Chief Const. Dean Duthie confirmed in a press conference that their main channel of communication during the incident was Twitter; other social media, like Facebook or Instagram, were not used during the incident, and no emergency alert was issued.

“We have to be very careful that we put out what we know, not what we think may be, because we don’t want to put out any information that is not confirmed,” the police chief told reporters.

The University of Victoria released an emergency alert to staff and students at 2:10pm, while Camosun College locked down its Lansdowne campus.

Support Your Community, Support Local Journalism

With paid membership, every penny goes directly to helping our newsroom continue its work and helps our team grow and expand our coverage

Become an Insider

‘Parents are freaking out’

Brenda Irvine, who owns Simply Fun Childcare on Kingsley Street, a block away from Shelbourne, told Capital Daily that she kept receiving texts from parents asking how they could pick up their children. Despite the shelter-in-place warnings, many parents had come.

"The parents [were] freaking out and wondering what to do," she said.

Holly Mallari had her two-year-old at a different daycare near Horner Park during the shooting. She said the daycare called her to pick up her kid, but she was hesitant due to the shelter-in-place order from Saanich Police.

“Honestly, most of the injuries during these kind of things (to my knowledge, anyways) are to those who lose their cool and can’t stay down in hiding," she told Capital Daily.

‘All porters to ER’: Royal Jubilee Hospital receives wounded

A paramedic, who asked not to be named because he was not authorized to speak to media, told Capital Daily that of the six Greater Victoria Emergency Response Team (GVERT) members shot, one “might not make it.” 

Police confirmed late Tuesday afternoon that three of the injured are Saanich Police officers. The other three are members of the Victoria Police Department. Chief Const. Duthie did not comment further on the nature of the officers’ injuries, mentioning only that some “sustained very serious injuries” and had been taken in for surgery.

The paramedic we spoke with said the shooting took a toll on his colleagues who attended the scene. 

“Our supervisors are asking additional paramedics to come in,” he said, after six paramedics went on official leave due to the added stress. 

At around 11:20 Tuesday morning, an announcement at the Royal Jubilee Hospital proclaimed “highest access restriction” for the emergency room. Fifteen minutes later, they called “all porters to ER.” They cleared restriction access at around 11:50am. 

“In order to ensure the safety of all involved, Royal Jubilee Hospital’s emergency department was briefly limited to restricted access,” an Island Health spokesperson told Capital Daily. “In any emergency situation, staff are redeployed, as necessary, to ensure our hospitals are best positioned to respond.” The health authority declined to comment on the nature and severity of people’s injuries after they were hospitalized.

Unclear whether suspects or police fired first

Chief Const. Duthie told reporters he couldn’t confirm how the shootout began between police and the armed suspects when officers arrived on scene.

James MacDonald / Capital Daily

“I don’t know who fired first at this point, but there were multiple gunshots that were fired,” Duthie told reporters. He added he couldn’t confirm the exact positioning of the suspects when they were hit.

In a press release, police noted they found no evidence of any bank employees, bank customers, or bystanders who were physically injured in the armed robbery and shootout.

Police noted the situation was “ongoing and active,” as officers dealt with a “potential explosive device” in a vehicle that was associated with the suspects. As in the case of the suspicious package found at the airport in May, a bomb disposal squad was dispatched from the mainland. The BC RCMP, Oak Bay Police, Westshore RCMP, and Vancouver Island Integrated Major Crime Unit have all been lending their efforts to the investigation.

Chief Const. Dean Duthie speaks with reporters on June 28, 2022. James MacDonald / Capital Daily

Police lifted the shelter-in-place order just before 6pm Tuesday evening, adding they “ha[d] not uncovered further indication of a potential third suspect.” 

Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes wrote on Twitter, "Our hearts go out to our officers, bank staff and residents … no words can describe how horrendous this is." 

Branch robbed four months ago

The same BMO branch was robbed in February, when a man dressed all in black handed a teller a note demanding money. The suspect was never found. 

Saanich Police have set up a digital evidence collection portal and are asking for anyone with photos or videos of Tuesday’s events to share what they have.

The police announced Wednesday afternoon that the RCMP would be taking lead on the investigation, and that it’s being treated as an attempted murder. Three officers had sustained “life threatening” injuries, Duthie told reporters Wednesday. Read more here.

This file will be updated as more information becomes available. 

-With files from Martin Bauman, Brishti Basu, Ryan Hook, Jimmy Thomson, Tori Marlan, Jolene Rudisuela, and Hanna Hett

Stay connected to everything happening in Greater Victoria with the free Capital Daily newsletter, read each morning by over 55,000 locals

Article Author's Profile Picture
EMAIL:
TWITTER:
contact@capitaldaily.ca

Support Your Community, Support Local Journalism

With paid membership, every penny goes directly to helping our newsroom continue its work and helps our team grow and expand our coverage

Become an Insider

Related News

Laurel Collins joins Victoria woman's fight to change publication ban rules on sexual assault
Stay connected to your city with the Capital Daily newsletter.
By filling out the form above, you agree to receive emails from Capital Daily. You can unsubscribe at any time.