'What were they waiting for?' Woman inside Saanich bank amid shootout describes 'calm' gunmen
'What were they waiting for?' Woman inside Saanich bank amid shootout describes 'calm' gunmen
A woman who was trapped inside a bank during a robbery and fatal shootout with police near Victoria on Tuesday says there is one question still plaguing her a day later: Why didn't the gunmen just leave with the money?
Both suspects were shot and killed, and six police officers were wounded in the ensuing exchange of gunfire Tuesday morning.
Shelli Fryer, a 59-year-old retiree from Langford, B.C., had a meeting with the bank manager about a loan at 11 a.m. Tuesday.
She parked her Ford Bronco next to the Bank of Montreal on Shelbourne Street in Saanich, B.C., and walked into the manager's glass-walled office.
"We had spoken for probably two minutes and all of a sudden there's a loud boom, like the loudest explosion," she recalled Wednesday.
"And then it's dead silence," she said. "And the manager said, 'We're being robbed.' He knew right away and went and grabbed the key."
Saanich Police joined by Victoria Police and RCMP respond to reports of gunfire involving multiple people and injuries reported during an active situation in Saanich, B.C., on Tuesday, June 28, 2022 THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
'THE ENERGY FROM THEM WAS COMPLETELY CALM'
Approximately 22 were people inside the bank, all but a handful of them employees, said Fryer, who had called in to Victoria radio station CFAX 1070 on Wednesday morning to express her gratitude for the police response before speaking with CTV News.
"I look around and I can see that everyone has gotten down on the floor," she recalled. "And I look up in the doorway and not even two feet away from me is a man in full assault gear, holding an assault rifle."
The gunman was wearing black clothing from head-to-toe, with an armoured vest over his jacket, and holding a black rifle that was "shorter and stockier" than what Fryer is used to seeing in popular media, she told CTV News.
Saanich police joined by Victoria police and RCMP respond to gunfire involving multiple people and injuries at a bank in Saanich, B.C., on Tuesday, June 28, 2022. The chief of police in Saanich says it is amazing no members of the public were hurt during a gunfight at the bank in which two robbery suspects died. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
The suspect's face was completely covered, including his eyes and mouth. "He's holding an assault rifle pointed up at the ceiling and not saying a word," Fryer said.
"The energy from them was completely calm," she added. "When they did speak it was with calm voices."
She heard the nearest gunman quietly say one word to the manager – "vault" – and the manager handed him the keys, she said.
"He pointed and the manager just came with him, walked out and left me there in his office."
'I GRABBED THE PHONE AND CALLED 911'
The other assailant was pacing the floor, speaking intermittently "with a very soft voice, almost whispering," she said. "Just walking back and forth past the office I was in like he was going for a walk in the park, just pacing as if he was waiting for something."
Fryer waited for the gunman to pass by the office door and then she reached for her cellphone.
"I grabbed the phone and called 911," she said.
The panicked woman whispered into the phone that armed robbers were inside the bank "and then I just left it with an open line."
Saanich police outside the Bank of Montreal on Shelbourne Street on June 28, 2022. (Joan B. Flood/Twitter)
One of the assailants then instructed everyone in the bank to move towards a rear hallway, she said.
"I was trying to hide," Fryer said. "I guess he saw me because he stood there and motioned with a hand gesture and I got up."
She slid her phone away and followed him into the back hallway. "Everyone was standing there lined up against the wall where you could not now see anything that was going on."
There she waited with the others for what felt like an eternity, she said.
"It was just dead silent the whole time," she said. "We heard nothing at all. No sirens. We did not know what was going on and then it was announced in a loud voice: 'Police!'"
Fryer said the air suddenly cracked with a "hail of gunfire" and she ran to an adjacent room that houses safety deposit boxes and hid under a shelf.
'WHAT WERE THEY WAITING FOR?'
Most of the other captives ran into a nearby filing room, she said.
They waited for approximately an hour, she believes, until heavily-armed police entered and instructed everyone to stay put until the bank was cleared.
Two of the six officers who suffered gunshot wounds during the robbery underwent surgery late Tuesday while a third also remained in hospital Wednesday morning. The other three members of Greater Victoria's emergency response team have been released following treatment for gunshot wounds, according to Saanich police.
Saanich police respond to the incident at the Bank of Montreal on June 28, 2022. (CTV News)
Fryer said she is still haunted by the "eerie energy" of the armed suspects, who she believes had managed to rob the bank but seemed in no rush to leave.
"I just don’t know what they wanted. What were they waiting for?" she pondered. "They had got all the money. They could have just taken the money and left right away. They would have been in and out before the police got there."
Saanich police Chief Const. Dean Duthie said the emergency response team happened to be near the bank when the report of the armed robbery came in, hastening their arrival on scene to confront the suspects.
CTVNews.ca Top Stories
With inflation on the rise and central banks poised to increase rates, CTVNews.ca speaks with experts on whether Canada will experience a recession, and if so, what it would look like.
The fatal film-set shooting of a cinematographer by actor Alec Baldwin last year was an accident, according to a determination made by New Mexico's Office of the Medical Investigator following the completion of an autopsy and a review of law enforcement reports.
For the second time in less than a month, a resident of Ashcroft, B.C., died while waiting for health care after having a heart attack mere metres from a local ambulance station.
A diving accident at 14-years-old left Brian Parker paralyzed from the chest down. Now at age 49, he's without the person who was caring for him full-time until just last week, after his 68-year-old mother was diagnosed with breast cancer.
While many Canadians don’t support moving away from the metric system of measurement, many continue to use imperial measurements in their daily lives, according to a recent online poll.
Minister of Families, Children and Social Development of Canada Karina Gould is discouraging people from making fake travel plans just to skip the line of those waiting for passports.
Opponents of the Coastal GasLink pipeline currently under construction in Northern B.C took to the streets of Vancouver Monday, briefly blocking north-bound traffic on the Cambie Street Bridge.
Actress Bryce Dallas Howard said she was paid 'so much less' than her co-star Chris Pratt for their work in the 'Jurassic World' films.
'Nightmare without end': Action needed to address rights abuses against Afghan women and girls, advocate says
The international community needs to step up to hold the Taliban accountable for human rights abuses in Afghanistan, a year after the militant Islamist group took control of the country and limited the rights of women and girls, according to Heather Barr, associate director of the Women's Rights Division of Human Rights Watch.
Due to mounting pressures on staff, the emergency department at Vancouver's UBC Hospital will be scaling back its hours starting Tuesday.
An 87-year-old Metro Vancouver woman was so convinced that the man on the other end of the phone was an attorney, she gave him $10,000.
Calls to ensure timely emergency response after another Ashcroft resident dies waiting for ambulance
For the second time in recent weeks, a resident in the village of Ashcroft has died while waiting for an ambulance to arrive. The tragedy is leading to calls for more immediate action to ensure timely emergency response in the community and across the province.
City council approved a $15.2 million investment to fund a joint dispatch centre in Chinatown, with some hoping the province would help pick up the tab.
Edmonton City Council decided to halt the Prairie Sky Gondola project for the time being.
The 29-year-old was charged with two counts of impaired operation causing death, impaired driving and possession of an illegal substance.
Toronto Pearson International Airport has shown signs of improvements in recent weeks, but a traveller and aviation expert says he was disheartened to see 'mountains' of bags and triple stacked security lines at the airport over the weekend.
As the Canadian National Exhibition prepares to return to Toronto this week, organizers say they worry ongoing labour action could deter people from attending the fair and hamper its revival following a two-year hiatus laden with financial setbacks.
When Airbnb first launched 14 years ago, it changed the way many people book their vacations as they travel locally and around the world.
The death of a 63-year-old woman last Friday at a Strathmore care home was a homicide, said Strathmore RCMP in a release issued Monday.
An Alberta man drowned over the weekend at a popular lake in British Columbia, Mounties confirmed Monday.
It’s been one year since the Taliban took over the Afghan capital of Kabul, seizing control from a government that was widely acknowledged around the world.
Quebec health authorities are launching another COVID-19 booster vaccination campaign on Monday, targeting people living in CHSLDs and private seniors' residences (RPAs). The recommended interval between baseline vaccination and a first booster dose is three months or more, while the suggested interval between each subsequent booster dose is five months or more.
Several experts note that the number of whales observed this summer on both sides of the St. Lawrence River is low, even though the observation season is not over.
With one week to go before the start of the new school year, the CSQ is concerned that some CEGEPs will be unable to offer certain services and even some courses due to a lack of staff.
Nova Scotia is reporting a rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations for the month of July, while the number of deaths decreased compared to previous months.
Rocca said an examination of dental records was being conducted Monday afternoon in hopes of identification.
‘I feel positive about the whole thing’: Growing number of Maritimers opting for medical assistance in dying
Five years after it was introduced in Canada, it seems more Canadians are seeking a doctor's assistance in ending their own lives.
The tornado warnings and severe thunderstorm warnings issued in parts of southern Manitoba Monday evening have ended, though severe thunderstorm watches remain.
Southern Manitoba municipalities are gearing up for fall elections, but in areas where the current mayor or reeve is not running, some communities could be short on candidates.
Three people have been arrested after police officers executed a search warrant, which resulted in an armed and barricaded situation that lasted almost 10 hours.
As staffing shortages affect several sectors across the province, local non-for-profits say they’re facing a shortage of volunteers.
Some parents are calling for the Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB) to disclose more details about a data hack that saw what the board describes as “certain” student information accessed.
A recent regulatory amendment now allows First Nations to operate on-reserve cannabis stores without a permit from the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority (SLGA). However, some First Nations do not think it will change the way current shops already operate.
A Regina woman has died following a two vehicle collision near the town of Qu’Appelle on Highway 1.
Severe thunderstorms brought tennis ball and golf ball sized hail to parts of southern Saskatchewan overnight.
Provincial police say a Barrie man has died in a collision in Oro-Medonte Monday afternoon.
Trans Power Utility has closed Minet's Point Road to install a new road crossing to support the Regional Express Rail Expansion planned for the Barrie GO corridor.
Five years after being found guilty of second-degree murder by a jury of eight men and four women, Terrence Barrett will have a new trial.
Bear spray incidents at the Saskatoon Ex have prompted Prairieland Park to look at beefing up security measures at the gates.
A judge is reserving decision in an animal abuse case that saw a dog die after being thrown into a metal clothing rack.
The search for a 74-year-old woman lost in the forest northeast of Smeaton has come to a tragic end.
Lisa LaFlamme is leaving CTV News. The network announced today that the Chief Anchor and Senior Editor is departing after more than 30 years with the company.
Recycling not only benefits the earth, but record prices of certain recyclable products are generating some extra cash for the City of North Bay.
A 72-year-old downtown Sudbury businessman has entered the pool of candidates running for mayor in the City of Greater Sudbury, bringing the number of contenders to nine.