One week after an exchange of gunfire outside a Shelbourne Street bank in Saanich, three police officers remain in hospital, one in intensive care after undergoing three surgeries.
The three include two Saanich police officers and one Victoria officer, all members of the emergency response team.
Brothers Mathew and Isaac Auchterlonie, both 22, of Duncan, died in the shootout after attempting to rob the bank branch. In all, six officers were wounded, but three were treated and released.
One of the Saanich officers, who has been with the force for eight years, is in stable condition in hospital, Saanich Police Chief Dean Duthie said at a news conference Tuesday. Duthie said he spoke with the officer on Monday.
“He let me know that the support that he is feeling from everyone is so very appreciated and it is helping him build strength and heal.”
The other Saanich officer is in ICU and has undergone three surgeries so far, Duthie said.
That officer has also served with Saanich for eight years, he said.
“He continues to be surrounded by the love and the support of his family and has been showing signs of improvement day by day, including short conversations with his family and close friends.”
The department is grateful for the massive outpouring of support from the public, which has included hundreds of cards and emails, Duthie said.
The chief did not release details of the officers’ injuries but said they were significant. “But the recovery process has started. It is not over by any means. It is going to be a very long road.”
Initially, it was expected that the names of the Saanich officers would be released Tuesday, but Duthie said he reconsidered after thinking about the potential impact of releasing their identities. The officers need help and support, not extra stress, he said.
The Victoria Police Department has also decided not to share names or biographical details of its injured officers, spokesman Bowen Osoko said later. “We echo Saanich Police Department Chief Duthie’s comments that we need to do what is best for our officers and their families and respect their wishes for privacy at this time.”
The Victoria Police Department has also received a tremendous outpouring of support from the public, he said.
In Duncan, Mayor Michelle Staples said she did not know the Auchterlonie brothers or their family.
She said she is still coming to terms with the violence. “It is hard to believe that something like this could happen on Vancouver Island and that the two people responsible for this were from the Duncan/Cowichan Valley area.”
Staples said Duncan sends its “heartfelt prayers” for the recovery of the wounded officers.
“There is no way we can make sense of the choices and actions of these two young men. What we can do is care for each other as we move through the coming days, weeks and months.”