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Brothers aimed to kill police, didn’t expect to survive Saanich bank shootout

22-year-old Cowichan Valley brothers were killed in the June 2022 gunbattle outside BMO branch
Police personnel surround the area around the BMO branch at Shelbourne and Pear Street in Saanich. A midday bank robbery there was followed by shooting that left two suspects dead and saw six police officers taken to hospital with gunshot wounds. (Black Press Media file photo)

The totality of evidence from almost seven months of investigation into last year’s Saanich bank shootout found the heavily armed brothers were prepared to die as they sought to inflict as many police casualties as possible.

The Vancouver Island Integrated Major Crime Unit (VIIMCU) released those findings in Saanich on Friday, aiming to be transparent with a community that still has unanswered questions about the June 2022 gun battle outside the Bank of Montreal location on Shelbourne Street.

Duncan’s Mathew and Isaac Auchterlonie entered the bank shortly after 11 a.m., the pair – donning modified olive-coloured body armour and armed with semi-automatic SKS rifles – were uncharacteristically calm as they were inside the bank for 16 minutes, causing investigators to conclude a robbery was never their intent.

Instead, police believe the brothers didn’t intend to harm the bank hostages but wanted to use them to draw a large police response so the 22-year-olds could inflict as much damage as possible on law enforcement.

A report from B.C.’s police watchdog found members from the Greater Victoria Emergency Response Team (GVERT) arrived on scene as the brothers exited the bank. After one of those officers threw a flashbang to disorient the twins, its detonation was almost simultaneous with a barrage of more than 100 shots traded.

READ: Officers met with immediate gunfire, could feel ‘percussion’ of bullets at Saanich bank shooting

One GVERT officer, who was shot in both legs and one arm, said “it was almost like a continuation right with that was another boom, and then just more boom, boom, boom.” He noted the gunfire was close range, stating he could feel the “percussion” of the bullets.

In the end, both brothers were fatally shot while six officers were injured, three of which were deemed life-threatening at the time.

Through physical evidence that uncovered plans, inquiries into the suspects’ internet activity and considering the Auchterlonies ultimately followed through on their violent goal, the investigation concurred the suspects held anti-government, anti-police and anti-authority views.

The brothers didn’t know Greater Victoria that well and the bank seemed to be chosen at random, police said. Evidence of their plans, recovered from the boys’ home, showed they were planning a larger event for mid-2023, but they were about to have to move and therefore had to expedite their plants into what became the Saanich shootout.

After the gunfire exchange ended, police units got to work safely disarming 30 unsophisticated and homemade explosive devices the suspects brought to the scene.

After that was done, police searched the car the men used to travel to the bank, where they recovered more than 100 ammunition magazines and more than 3,500 rounds, along with a shotgun and three other semi-automatic rifles. It remains unknown to investigators what the brothers’ intent was with the vast amount of guns, ammunition and explosives in the event they survived the shootout.

However, police stressed the pair were prepared to and planned on dying in the shootout.

Through their investigation police did determine there was no third suspect, despite initial reports that another suspect may have been involved.

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Jake Romphf

About the Author: Jake Romphf

In early 2021, I made the move from the Great Lakes to Greater Victoria with the aim of experiencing more of the country I report on.
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