Crime
Explainer
Provides context or background, definition and detail on a specific topic.

Everything we know about the Saanich shootout so far—and what we're still waiting to learn

Some answers have trickled out over the past week. Many have not.

Crime
Explainer
Provides context or background, definition and detail on a specific topic.

Everything we know about the Saanich shootout so far—and what we're still waiting to learn

Some answers have trickled out over the past week. Many have not.

Police on Shelbourne Street on June 28, 2022. Photo: James MacDonald / Capital Daily
Police on Shelbourne Street on June 28, 2022. Photo: James MacDonald / Capital Daily
Crime
Explainer
Provides context or background, definition and detail on a specific topic.

Everything we know about the Saanich shootout so far—and what we're still waiting to learn

Some answers have trickled out over the past week. Many have not.

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Everything we know about the Saanich shootout so far—and what we're still waiting to learn
Police on Shelbourne Street on June 28, 2022. Photo: James MacDonald / Capital Daily

Emileigh Pearson says even though the police cars have left and few signs of the incident remain, she still feels like things haven’t gone back to normal—bullets flying in front of her house is not something she was prepared for. She’s not alone; the bank robbery that quickly turned into a shootout on Shelbourne Street in Saanich has kept Victorians on edge for more than a week. 

A combined response between Victoria and Saanich police and the RCMP’s Vancouver Island Integrated Major Crimes Unit have given five press conferences since the shooting. They have clarified some of the questions media and the public have, providing the names of the shooters, some details about the condition of the six injured officers, and a few additional details regarding what took place last Tuesday.

But more questions remain, and in the absence of reliable information, rumours have spread. That’s reflected in our inboxes—and even in the real world, when, last Wednesday, a man wearing camouflage and carrying a long object was the subject of a brief manhunt after people spotted him in the area near the bank. (Saanich police later clarified there was not believed to be a connection to the shootout and there was no risk to the public.)

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We’ve gathered everything that’s verifiable so far into one place. This story may be updated in the days to come as more information is made available through witnesses, research, and police statements.

If you have information about the shootout, the suspects, or the police response, we want to hear from you. You can email us at tips@capitaldaily.ca.

What we know about what happened on June 28

At around 10:30pm on June 27, a person wearing a ski mask walked toward the Bank of Montreal branch on Shelbourne Street, according to a witness we spoke with who asked not to be identified. That’s likely the first known sighting of the suspects, and hasn’t been reported publicly until now.

The following morning, Shelli Fryer, a 59-year-old retiree living in Langford, had an appointment with the bank manager. She was sitting in the manager’s office when she heard a loud boom coming from the lobby—a sound she believes was a gunshot. “We’re being robbed,” she recalls the manager saying, calmly. She looked toward the doorway and she saw a man standing there, carrying what appeared to be an assault rifle. 

The man beckoned for the manager to join him. He said one word only, Fryer recalls: “vault.” The manager joined him and left.

Alone in the manager’s office, its floor-to-ceiling windows looking out onto Shelbourne Street, Fryer tried catching the attention of passersby. Nobody saw her. (The glass, she saw later, is reflective from the outside.)

An aerial view of the BMO branch after the shootout. Photo: James MacDonald / Capital Daily

“I realized, ‘This is stupid. If this guy comes back and I’m waving my arms around… I’m dead,’” she said. She dropped to the floor.

That’s when she thought of her cell phone. As quietly as she could, she placed a call to 9-1-1. Her phone records show that call happened at 11:04am.

Two minutes before Fryer called, at 11:02am, police received a different call—they have not specified from whom, or whether it was from inside the bank—about a robbery in progress. 

A Greater Victoria Emergency Response Team (GVERT) was nearby ​​on “an entirely separate and unrelated investigation,” Saanich Police chief const. Dean Duthie told reporters. They sped to the bank, along with a CRD traffic enforcement unit, a K9 unit, and patrol officers. 

A police officer on Shelbourne Street on June 28, 2022. Photo: James MacDonald / Capital Daily

A video shot by Jackson Grasky shows police running down Shelbourne Street. Grasky and his friend, Brody Pepper, were on their way out of Oregano’s Pizza across the street from the bank when they saw the police preparing to engage with the suspects.

Another video, published by CTV, shows what appear to be the moments prior to Grasky’s video. Police gather around the corner behind Fujiya Foods, next to the bank. GVERT’s unmarked white van is idling next to the officers. The van accelerates south toward the bank, and 10 seconds later, the first shots can be heard. It came to rest a little less than 70m away, with the sliding door open towards the bank—suggesting that the firefight began almost immediately after the van arrived in front of the bank. Photos taken later show blood pooling in the van.

In Grasky’s video, at least 20 gunshots are audible during the 19-second video. It’s not clear which shots come from police and which come from the suspects. The Grasky video shows the van already in position, with shots ringing out, long before the rest of the officers are close enough to be involved.

Image from police.

A white 1992 Toyota Camry with two black racing stripes was identified by police as being linked to the suspects—and “multiple improvised explosive devices” were found in the trunk. They were disposed of by an RCMP bomb squad from the mainland. 

Capital Daily heard from at least two residents in the area of the shooting that cell reception was an issue on Tuesday—the result of a Telus tower that was removed in May, after the building it had been affixed to was demolished. Freelance photographer James MacDonald, on assignment for Capital Daily to cover the incident, also lost service as soon as he entered the area. Capital Daily’s newsletter editor, Martin Bauman, could barely hear his garbled phone-in reports.

But RCMP Cpl. Alex Bérubé downplayed any effects the reception issues might have posed to police in their response. VicPD and Saanich PD did not respond to questions.

What we still don’t know:

-Who fired first? 
-How many officers responded?
-How was the response coordinated?
-How many of the officers who were shot were in the GVERT van? 

What we know about the suspects

The man Fryer saw standing in the doorway was covered head to toe, wearing what appeared to be a balaclava without even holes in the eyes or mouth. She couldn’t even see a patch of skin to determine his skin colour. 

Police on Shelbourne Street on June 28, 2022. Photo: James MacDonald / Capital Daily

He was wearing a jacket and a vest—“In my head I thought, ‘That's not very good protection; that looks like he bought it at Walmart,’” Fryer recalls—and motorcycle guards on his legs. His ankles were taped with fabric tape.

Fryer, other customers, and bank employees were taken into a rear hallway, where they waited for about 20 minutes. She left her phone in the manager’s office, afraid of being caught making the 9-1-1 call.

On Saturday, the Vancouver Island Integrated Crime Unit (VIICU) identified the two deceased suspects as brothers Isaac and Mathew Auchterlonie, 22, of Duncan. Both were killed during the shootout with police. The Auchterlonies were initially referred to by police as twins, but the Globe and Mail has since reported they were triplets, and they had a sister. They also had two older brothers, the Globe reports. (Neither the sister nor the other brothers have any reported connections with the June 28 shootout.)

Brothers Mathew and Isaac Auchterlonie, shown in a photo released by VIICU on July 2, 2022. Photo: RCMP.

Neither brother had a criminal record or was known to police. 

Global News reported this week that Isaac worked at Canadian Tire until March 2020, and that both brothers were, until late June, employed at Pacific Energy in Duncan. Former classmates told CHEK News the brothers had attended Frances Kelsey Secondary School in Mill Bay, and had planned to undergo basic military training—but they were unsure if the Auchterlonies ever followed through. 

“They were very to themselves,” said Courtney Dougan, who had been a student at Frances Kelsey at the same time as the brothers.

In the initial hours after the shootout, police combed the area looking for a third suspect. They have since determined the brothers were the only suspects in the bank.

“The investigators are satisfied that there were only two suspects in the bank,” RCMP Cpl. Alex Bérubé told Capital Daily. “But we're still open to the idea that there might be a suspect somewhere. However, there's no indication or evidence to suggest at this time that there was a third suspect involved.”

An Instagram account apparently linked to Isaac, @isaacauchterlonie867, was deactivated Saturday; however, YouTube user Jay Roze captured its contents before the account’s removal. Photos on the account feature frequent pro-gun references and anti-government memes and hashtags. Both photos and videos also repeatedly show the brothers with guns and hunting knives, and reference bullets as #freedomseeds. Another post shows Auchterlonie seemingly burning a federal gun buyback brochure.

Screenshot from deactivated Instagram account (@isaacauchterlonie867). Screenshot: Jay Roze / YouTube

The weapon Fryer saw one of the brothers carrying looked like an assault rifle—only shorter and stockier, she recalls: “He didn’t need two hands to hold it; he was holding it [with] one arm.” The weapons that would later be shown in pictures from Isaac’s Instagram page did not match her recollection.

“None of those guns were what he was carrying,” said Fryer, who grew up on a farm, around firearms.

Rod Giltaca, CEO and executive director of the Canadian Coalition for Firearm Rights, told CHEK News that based on the sound of the gunfire captured in videos from the scene, it’s likely the suspects were using illegal magazines in their guns.

“If you squeeze a sixth round into a magazine designed for those firearms, that becomes a prohibited device like a hand grenade or a handgun in the eyes of the law,” he said.

Capital Daily has since learned that one of the brothers unsuccessfully tried to join the military.

“While Matthew [sic] Auchterlonie did apply to the Canadian Armed Forces, he did not successfully pass the Canadian Forces Aptitude Test,” a military spokesperson wrote in response to questions from Capital Daily. The spokesperson declined to release the year he applied.

The CAF also confirmed that Isaac had participated in its Soldier for a Day program in 2018. Only Isaac participated in Soldier for a Day, and only Mathew applied for the military, the spokesperson said.

Screenshot from deactivated Instagram account (@isaacauchterlonie867). Screenshot: Jay Roze / YouTube

The militaristic, seemingly radical lifestyle and interests of the brothers has led some to speculate that their intention, rather than robbing a bank, was to draw in police and create the shootout that ensued. 

Their behaviour during the robbery, specifically their slowness in leaving the bank, has added fuel to that speculation—along with an Instagram post commemorating the 1997 North Hollywood shooting, a violent confrontation with police that bears some resemblance to what ended up unfolding in Saanich. 

There is no other known evidence supporting that theory—but police haven’t ruled it out publicly either.

“The motive behind the armed robbery and subsequent exchange of gunfire with police has not yet been determined,” Bérubé told reporters at a news conference.

What we still don’t know:

-What weapons and explosives did the suspects use?
-
Where did the suspects get their weapons and explosives from? Were their firearms legal?
-What were the suspects’ motives? Were they planning a bank heist or hoping to lure police into a shootout?
-What led them to travel from Duncan to Victoria?
-If their intention was to die in a shootout, why did the suspects conceal their faces?
-How long had the suspects been in Victoria before the shootout? Where did they stay? Who knew they were there?

What we know about the injured police officers

Six police officers were shot, all men. Three were from Victoria Police, and three from Saanich. None of their names have been made public so far, but police said on July 11 that two officers remain in hospital—both from Saanich. The other four have been released. 

One officer, described as an eight-year veteran of the police force who was part of the GVERT unit, has had three surgeries, and was recently moved out of the Intensive Care Unit as his condition has improved. Another eight-year Saanich officer in hospital as of Tuesday was described as being in stable condition. He’d worked in patrol, community engagement, and with the GVERT. A third Saanich officer released from hospital has seven years of service, and another 2.5 years with another department, Duthie told reporters Tuesday. 

Saanich Police Chief Const. Dean Duthie speaks with reporters. Photo: James MacDonald / Capital Daily

A GoFundMe set up for the injured officers has already raised more than $200,000, with big donations coming from property developers, police unions, and firefighter unions.

What we still don’t know:

-Who were the injured officers?
-What was the extent of the officers’ injuries?

Everything we’ve published so far:

July 4, 2022

Saanich shootout was in a cell phone blackout area

Telus tower has been down for weeks—and one resident’s 9-1-1 calls for a suspected heart attack were dropped

July 3, 2022

One of two suspects killed in bank robbery was rejected from Canadian Armed Forces

22-year-old brothers Isaac and Mathew Auchterlonie posted videos and photos showing reverence for military

June 30, 2022

Three officers in ‘life threatening’ condition after Saanich gunfight

RCMP take lead on investigation, say it will be treated as attempted murder

June 30, 2022

Neighbours report new shelter-in-place order, one person in custody, as Saanich bank robbery investigation continues

Saanich Police are appealing to the public for information on a white 1992 Toyota Camry

June 28, 2022

‘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

*With files from Capital Daily staff

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