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Twin brothers killed in Saanich, B.C. bank shooting ‘wanted to shoot and kill police’: report

Click to play video: '2022 Saanich bank robbery was about killing cops, not money, according to investigators'
2022 Saanich bank robbery was about killing cops, not money, according to investigators
It wasn't about robbing a bank, it was about trying to kill cops. Investigators have revealed new chilling details about the Saanich bank robbery in 2022 that ended with twin brothers dead, and six police officers wounded. Paul Johnson reports – Jan 20, 2023

Police on Vancouver Island Friday released findings from a massive investigation looking into the shooting at a Bank of Montreal in Saanich, B.C. last year that left two suspects dead and six officers injured.

A motive had been at the forefront our everyone’s minds since June 28, after two masked, armed gunmen entered the bank and shortly after fired dozens of rounds at the responding officers.

Police said the suspects, 22-year-old twins Issac and Matthew Auchterlonie, were motivated to shoot and kill police. They had no interest in money in the bank.

Click to play video: 'Saanich bank shooting twins were ‘isolated from society’ and held extremist beliefs'
Saanich bank shooting twins were ‘isolated from society’ and held extremist beliefs

“It was determined the suspects’ primary objective was to shoot and kill police officers in what they saw as a stand against government regulations, especially against firearms ownership,” BC RCMP Cpl. Alex Berube told reporters Friday.

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“The time spent in the bank and their actions made it apparent to police that the objective of the robbery was not to obtain money but rather to generate an armed confrontation with police.”

The two were dressed in full body armour, and armed with semi-automatic SKS rifles, police said.

Police said the two brothers spent 16 minutes inside the bank before officers arrived, often travelling to the front to look out the window.

When officers responded to the report of a bank robbery, the gunfire began. More than 100 shots were fired by police, according to an Independent Investigations Office of B.C. report released last month.

The two brothers were then shot and killed by responding officers.

“Your actions and your courage saved countless innocent lives, of that I am certain,” BC RCMP Supt. Sanjaya Wijayakoon said, talking about the first-responding officers that day.

Click to play video: 'Suspects in Saanich bank shooting in 2022 only wanted to kill police officers'
Suspects in Saanich bank shooting in 2022 only wanted to kill police officers

Through the investigation, police learned the two brothers were isolated from society and held extreme anti-government and anti-police views centered around gun-control restrictions.

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“Personal annotations were recovered expressing outrage at the restriction of their access to firearms and body armour,” Berube said.

Police learned the suspects purchased a white sedan car a few days prior to the shootout, which they had parked out front of the bank.

In the trunk of the car, police found 30 improvised explosive devices, four additional firearms, and more than 3,500 rounds of ammo.

Police said the two planned to carry out a shooting in mid-2023 at an unknown location but moved the date up due to having to move out of their house.

Investigators believed the suspects thought they would be caught moving their weapon’s stash during the move and decided to move the shooting up to June 28 at a nearby Bank of Montreal.

Click to play video: 'IIO releases Saanich bank shootout report'
IIO releases Saanich bank shootout report

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. report released in late December offered more details regarding the shooting itself.

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Upon entering the bank, the report stated that one of the brothers fired a single shot into the ceiling. They then “corralled” bank staff and patrons into the area of the vault, the report said.

Alerted to the robbery in progress, Saanich police and members of the RCMP’s Greater Victoria Emergency Response Team (GVERT) assembled outside the bank. An unmarked GVERT van was already in the neighbourhood “engaged in a completely separate operation,” according to police.

When the twins exited the bank about 16 minutes after entering, they walked towards a white Toyota they had parked on the west side of the parking lot. At “the same moment,” the GVERT van turned into the lot and one of the suspects raised his rifle towards it.

A GVERT officer could have fired first in response to the suspect who raised his rifle, the report said, noting that as soon as the van’s slider door was fully opened, its occupants were struck by bullets.

“Boom, boom, boom,” an officer described to the watchdog, adding that he could feel “the percussion of each one of them, they were so loud and so close.”

He was shot in the leg and arm, the report read, while another officer who tried to exit the van was shot in the upper abdomen and thigh. A third officer was shouting that he had been shot in the neck, it stated.

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Click to play video: 'Suspects in Saanich bank shooting acted alone and were prepared for violence'
Suspects in Saanich bank shooting acted alone and were prepared for violence

An officer tossed a flashbang device out of the vehicle to distract or stun the pair and make a quick arrest, the report said, but gunfire ensued instead. It is “impossible” to tell who fired first — police or one of the suspects, the watchdog found.

The sergeant in the van’s driver seat fired at least 28 rounds through the windshield before exiting, taking cover in a bush, and firing some more. He was eventually struck in the foot by a ricocheting police bullet.

As the remaining GVERT members exited the van and tried to patch wounds, Saanich police officers advanced on foot. Some fired at the suspects, the report stated, and others assisted wounded officers.

One of the brothers was shot in the head and fell to the ground. The other, who was also firing at the van, was struck by several bullets and fell, the report said.

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Three of the police officers shot were from Saanich and three were from Victoria. All six police officers are now out of hospital and recovering on their own, police said.

Click to play video: '‘Innocent lives were protected and saved,’ Saanich police chief says'
‘Innocent lives were protected and saved,’ Saanich police chief says

—With files from Global BC’s Elizabeth McSheffrey.

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