‘We huddled under the bush’: Witness describes seeing gunfire outside Saanich B.C. bank

Click to play video: 'Witness describes seeking cover during Saanich B.C. bank shooting'
Witness describes seeking cover during Saanich B.C. bank shooting
Saanich resident Paul Arnold describes seeing police officers and the bank robbers shooting at each other outside a Saanich B.C. bank on Tuesday. He said it was like something 'out of a movie.' – Jun 29, 2022

When Saanich B.C. resident Paul Arnold went out to run an errand Tuesday morning, he had no idea he was going to end up hiding from a hail of gunfire with a young woman who was almost in the bank when the shooting happened.

“I saw all the commotion, I saw the police… milling down the street with guns drawn,” Arnold told Global News. “So I just stood there and watched and suddenly all the gunfire started. It was just a machine gun going off, it was incredible and all the scattering and then the police came in.”

Arnold described the experience as “unbelievable.”

Click to play video: '6 officers hurt, 2 suspects dead in Saanich shootout'
6 officers hurt, 2 suspects dead in Saanich shootout

He ended up taking cover with a young woman who was heading to the bank.

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“I just grabbed her and we fell to the ground and there was a bush, so we huddled under the bush, and there was two rounds of fire,” Arnold explained.

“There was a big barrage and then there was a lag time, a point where there wasn’t any firing at all and I said, ‘As soon as that happens, there’s probably going to be a second volley and as soon as that happens go right to that truck’.”

He said they ran to the truck and stayed there until the bullets stopped flying.

“I didn’t know what else to do; it was so traumatic. It was unbelievable that something like this would happen in Victoria, of all places, but it did.”

Arnold said he knew there was going to be a second volley of gunfire.

“My wife said it’s because I watch 24 that I knew what to do,” he said.

“The first volley was maybe 30, 40 seconds. It was really rapid, it was machine guns going off. And then it stopped for about 10 seconds and then it started up again. And another maybe, 30, 40 seconds after that.

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“It was a bad day for the city, I’ll tell you.”

Saanich police officers responded Tuesday morning to a report of armed suspects at the Bank of Montreal in the 3600-block of Shelbourne Street in the community north of Victoria.

Multiple officers responded to the scene and encountered the armed suspects who fired at police.

Six officers were injured in the shooting — three from Saanich police and three from the Victoria Police Department. They all went to the hospital for treatment.

Police said two suspects were shot and killed at the scene.

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Arnold said he is shocked something like that could happen in their small community.

“I feel bad for that young woman,” he said. “She was only about 18 years old and she didn’t know what to do. She was frozen, so I just said ‘get down!’ and I grabbed her and we rolled under the bush and we laid under the ground until the first volley ended.”

Arnold said the young woman was crying her eyes out and if she had been 10 minutes earlier she could have been inside the bank.

“She was really traumatized.”

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