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Saanich bank shooting leaves ‘several people injured’

Written by Javed Iqbal

Five people were taken to hospital and two suspects have been arrested after an altercation with police at a bank in Saanich, BC

Police are asking people in the area from North Dairy Road to Cedar Hill Cross Road and between Richmond Road to Cedar Hill Road to take shelter while heavily armed officers search for a possible third suspect.

Several officers responded to the report from armed suspects at a bank in the 3600 block of Shelbourne Street before noon on Tuesday.

Witness Brenda Boyd told CTV News she was walking near the intersection of Shelbourne and Pear streets when she heard at least 25 shots around 6 p.m. 11.30.

She said a police officer, who was hiding behind bushes, shouted at her to leave the area immediately.

Boyd also said she saw at least three people being carried away on stretchers into waiting ambulances.

Saanich police have confirmed that several people were injured in the incident. (CTV News)

BC Emergency Health Services says paramedics were called to the shooting at 1 p.m. 11:21

Seven ambulances rushed to the scene and drove five patients to the hospital. The doctors remained in the area “on standby” after 1 p.m.

Another witness to the shooting said he was in a nearby bike shop when he saw “two police officers being shot” and saw another person lying on the ground in a nearby parking lot.

“It was just awful,” Fabien Cousineau said. “They dragged cops behind a police car.”

All traffic was still diverted from the area to allow police cars and medical personnel to access the site late Tuesday afternoon.

At about 1:30 p.m., Saanich police said they were evacuating homes and businesses near the site “due to the presence of a potentially explosive device.”

Saanich police have confirmed that several people were injured in the incident. (CTV News)

‘IT WAS QUICK PROTECTION’

Cleo Gagner and her 15-year-old son were buying cat food at a veterinary clinic near the Bank of Montreal on Shelbourne Street when she said they heard what sounded like two shots.

“Bum, boom,” she told CTV News in the minutes after the incident. “And then there were the quick shots. More shots from more shooters.”

She estimated that they heard 40 to 50 shots in quick succession.

“Then a police officer from Saanich started driving up towards the BMO with his door open,” she said. “He got out of his vehicle, pulled out his gun … and then the shot escalated and he withdrew.”

The woman said she and her son ran back to the vet’s office and sought shelter until it became quiet outside.

A spokesman for the BMO says the company is “deeply saddened” by the incident.

“The safety and security of our customers and employees is our priority, and our thoughts go out to every person affected by today’s events,” said spokesman Jeff Roman.

“We thank relief workers for their prompt assistance and for helping keep the public safe.”

Witness video obtained by CTV News shows a group of police officers gathering behind a nearby restaurant before letting themselves down the street in a hail of audible shots.

Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes said in a brief statement on his Twitter account on Tuesday: “Our hearts go out to our officers, bank staff and residents … no words can describe how awful this is.”

This is a development story. Come back for updates.

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Javed Iqbal

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