Seventy-one days after being hospitalized in the shootout outside the Shelbourne Street Bank of Montreal, a Saanich officer is going home.
He’s the last officer from Greater Victoria to be released from hospital after the June 28 incident that left two suspects dead and six local officers injured.
The Greater Victoria Emergency Response Team member was seriously injured during the shootout and will now recover at home. Police, firefighters, paramedics, health care workers and the officer’s family and friends gathered outside Victoria General Hospital on Wednesday (Sept. 7) morning to send him off.
“This is a milestone day,” said Saanich police Chief Dean Duthie in a press conference. “This is such a powerful, important day for the Saanich Police Department. We are bringing home our last injured member from hospital … and (he) has a positive outlook (that) inspires and motivates us all.”
But despite the relief felt throughout the community, the road to recovery will be anything but short for the officer who sustained multiple gunshot wounds.
“It’s going to be a very long recovery journey, so to know where it ends is unknown to me,” Duthie said. “It’s going to be considerable rehabilitation and medical care that is going to be undertaken for many, many more months. Again, the progress that has been made to date is what we are focusing on.”
Three Saanich officers and another three from the Victoria Police Department were shot during the exchange with the suspects, two 22-year-old brothers from Duncan. The motive of Mathew and Isaac Auchterlonie is still being investigated by the Vancouver Island Integrated Major Crime Unit.
A Langford woman, who was one of the hostages on June 28, was meeting with the bank’s manager when they heard a loud boom. Shelli Fryer said the 17 women and five men inside the bank immediately got on the ground when the two brothers entered. She described the suspects as wearing all black including balaclavas, gloves, jackets, vests, body armour and pads covering the calves from the knee down.
One suspect came up to the bank manager and said “vault,” she recalled.
Fryer had 911 on the phone during the incident and logged the call as lasting one hour, 26 minutes and five seconds.
She said there was “dead silence” for “what felt like an eternity” before the gunfire rang out and she hid alone under a shelf in the manager’s office while others took shelter in a filing room.
The Independent Investigations Office (IIO) of B.C. is also looking into the incident. The civilian oversight agency investigates all officer-related incidents that result in serious harm or death.
-With files from The Canadian Press
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