Police found explosive devices at site of Saanich, B.C., bank shootout, three officers remain in hospital

Police have confirmed they found explosive devices in a vehicle at the scene of an attempted bank robbery that turned into a deadly shootout this week in Saanich, a quiet community on southern Vancouver Island.

Meanwhile, authorities say three of the six officers injured during the incident remain in hospital — including one who is in intensive care.

The Vancouver Island Integrated Major Crime Unit is investigating the incident — in which two still unidentified suspects were killed — as an attempted murder, RCMP Sgt. Chris Manseau told a news conference Wednesday, adding that the explosives have been destroyed.

“The types of explosives and what their intentions were — we don’t know,” Manseau told reporters. “That information may come forward in the future, or it may form part of the investigation, or we may never know.”

Around 11 a.m. Tuesday, gunfire broke out at a bank in the Victoria suburb. Video recorded by witnesses show police running toward the bank and what seems to be dozens of rounds are heard being fired.

By the end of the incident, two bank robbery suspects were dead and six police officers were injured, three with life-threatening injuries. The area remained closed Wednesday afternoon as police continued their work.

Manseau said the two suspects used firearms in the incident but the specifics are still being determined.

Saanich Chief Const. Dean Duthie said one of the injured officers will require further surgeries.

“They are significant and serious,” Duthie said of the injuries to the officers.

The possibility of a third suspect is still being investigated, Duthie said, but there is no risk to the public. British Columbia’s Independent Investigations Office, which examines any incident involving police officers, is investigating.

Duthie said the incident is one of the “most difficult and trying circumstances” the department has experienced, adding that words of encouragement from other police departments and the public have been welcomed.

“Our community has rallied behind us with letters, cards phone calls and acts of gesture that have really made a difference,” he said. “For this, I thank you. We are so touched by your genuine thoughts, care compassion and support.”

Jeremy Nuttall is a Vancouver-based investigative reporter for the Star. Follow him on Twitter: @Nuttallreports


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