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Saanich bank-robbery suspect tried to join Armed Forces: DND

Motive for the robbery and shootout remains unknown, police say. Days later, a bullet hole was found in a laundromat across the street

One of two brothers killed by police in a shootout after an attempted robbery at a Saanich bank last week had tried to join the Canadian Armed Forces, but was turned down.

Mathew Auchterlonie, 22, of Duncan did not pass the Canadian Forces Aptitude Test, a National Defence spokeswoman said in a Monday email, adding DND could not share when he applied.

Mathew’s brother Isaac Auchterlonie participated in DND’s Soldier for a Day program in 2018, she said.

Anyone older than 15 who is interested in learning about the armed forces can take part in the one-day event, where participants tour the local base, may do part of a fitness test and are shown some equipment. They do not fire or manipulate live guns or other weapons, the official said.

“Neither Isaac nor Matthew Auchterlonie, have ever been part of the Canadian Armed Forces in any way.”

The motive behind the deadly armed robbery and shootout remains unknown, the RCMP have said. Updates on the names and conditions of six police officers wounded in the shootout are expected today.

On Monday, a handful of Gerbera daisies from a well-wisher and slabs of plywood boarding up shattered windows were among the few signs of the violence at the Shelbourne branch of the Bank of Montreal last Tuesday.

“It is worrying but we have to get back to our lives,” said Teresa, who works at a nearby grocery store. “We have to get back to work and get our groceries and all of that.”

For staff at Squeaky’s Laundromat across the street, there is a tangible reminder of the shootout: a bullet hole in the wall behind the cash register.

“We heard a lot of the shooting sounds,” said laundromat owner Edward Park. “But we didn’t notice that a bullet had actually come through.”

On Tuesday around 11 a.m., Park looked out the window of his business and saw two men in army gear and black masks at the bank across the street.

A few moments later, gunshots rang out. Park and three other staff members lay flat on the ground, uncertain of what was happening.

It wasn’t until a few days later that police found a bullet lodged in a comforter that had been folded neatly on a shelf behind the cash. When they unfolded the comforter, they found that the bullet had ripped holes through its folded layers.

It was beyond repair, but Park was just grateful the bullet didn’t hit any of the gas pipes, or worse, an employee.

“I’m very relieved. We are very lucky,” he said. “My workers were scared and terrified. I’m just trying to take care of my employees so they do not have serious trauma.

“We are so busy — a lot of clients were waiting for us to open,” he said. “We try not to look at the bullet hole.”

Madison Lowe was walking to the bank to deliver a deposit when she noticed an unusual police presence at the branch. She started talking to another bystander, Paul Arnold, when shots rang out.

“All of a sudden, stuff started happening [and] guns started going off, so he grabbed me and we hid behind the truck until it stopped,” she said. “And then I just went back to work.”

Lowe said she stayed home from work the next day. A week later, she still finds being in the area “a bit freaky.”

“It’s nice now that this is open,” she said, pointing to Shelbourne Street. “With the road being closed, it was just a reminder that something happened here a few days ago.”

Tracey Hanna, who lives metres from the crime scene, said the shootout and its aftermath were surreal, “like living in a crime drama.”

“There was the gunshots, the yelling and the screaming and then it was done,” she said.

“It seemed like forever but I know it wasn’t very long. And then total chaos for the next couple of days.”

Bank of Montreal spokesman Jeff Roman said in an email that the Shelbourne branch will reopen “soon,” although he didn’t provide a date.

Employees working at the branch are being paid, he said, and counsellors are on site to help staff.

Greater Victoria Police Victim Services said it’s helping roughly 30 people in relation to the robbery and shootings, and expects the number to grow over the next few weeks as people “start to process the magnitude of the incident and the emotions that come along with that,” said executive director Karyn French.

“There’s a real range of emotions — anything from fear to shock, sadness, anger and gratitude for the first responders.

“It is very normal for people to experience a wide range of emotional and physical [reactions], what you might call aftershocks, from witnessing or being involved in such a dramatic event.”

Anyone who needs support can call the police victim services office at 250-995-7351 or email info@gvpvs.org.

Police are asking anyone with information about the suspects or their vehicle to call the Vancouver Island Integrated Major Crime Unit information line at 250-380-6211.

Anyone with digital evidence related to the incident, in the form of video or photographs, is asked to upload the information to Saanich police through an online site.

ngrossman@timescolonist.com

cjwilson@timescolonist.com