Saanich, B.C. gunmen identified as twin brothers, motive still unclear

By Hana Mae Nassar

Investigators in British Columbia have identified the two men shot and killed during an attempted bank robbery in Saanich on Vancouver Island Tuesday as twin brothers from Duncan.

Mathew and Isaac Auchterlonie, both 22 years old, were not previously known to police.

“Investigators are prepared to release what we believe at this time as it will further the ongoing investigation with the help of our public,” said Cpl. Alex Bérubé with the Island District RCMP.

Bérubé says investigators have spoken with the men’s parents, who are cooperating with police.

According to the RCMP, the motive behind the attempted robbery, which resulted in gunfire between the suspects and police, remains unclear.

“We’re still looking into the suspects’ backgrounds and can confirm that neither had criminal records or were known to police,” explained Bérubé.

“We understand that there’s a lot of questions that may still be outstanding. With the release of the names, we answered the who, but we’re still trying to understand exactly what took place and why.”

Six officers were hurt — some requiring surgery for serious injuries. The Auchterlonie brothers were killed in the shootout.

Investigators have said the suspects were “heavily armed” and wearing body armour. It’s unclear how the pair was able to get their hands on the weapons used.

RELATED: Saanich bank shooting leaves 6 police officers hurt, 2 suspects dead

“We can appreciate that question. There’s still a fulsome assessment of the firearms that were used during the exchange with police and we’re mindful that, while it’s important to the investigation, this is also being looked at by the IIO for the investigation. So, therefore, there’s no further information I can release at this time pertaining to the firearms,” said Bérubé.

Police are now hoping to speak with anyone who may have information about the men, with the goal of understanding why this incident took place. That includes the brothers’ recent activities as well as travel.

The RCMP notes that investigators are reviewing hundreds of hours of surveillance footage and have conducted dozens of interviews.

Earlier in the week, the RCMP released images of a white, four-door 1992 Toyota Camry with blue racing stripes over the hood and roof, saying the vehicle was connected with the Auchterlonie brothers.

Since that time, “a number calls and tips” have come in, which police are following up on.

Saanich bank shooting leaves many shocked

Tuesday’s attempted robbery and subsequent shooting forced evacuations of nearby buildings and shelter-in-place advisories issued for some time. At one point, it was believed there was a third potential suspect, though police said later in the day they had “not uncovered further indication” of that.

However, in an update Wednesday, police noted that, while they didn’t believe there was a risk to the public, they could not definitively rule out the possibility there was a third suspect. Police are still looking into that possibility, saying they are trying to determine whether anyone else was involved or associated.

Meanwhile, what looked to be an explosive device found in a vehicle at the scene prompted police to clear out the neighbourhood for several hours Tuesday.

“As the scene was being assessed yesterday a vehicle we now believe is associated with the suspects was found to have multiple improvised explosive devices in it. The RCMP Provincial Explosive Disposal Unit was called in to further assess the devices,” Bérubé said Wednesday.

Support for the community and its officers has poured in over the last several days. The condition of the officers who remained in hospital is not yet known.

“I’m awestruck. When you look at the video of officers running into the line of fire to save the residents of Saanich that they swore an oath to, what a call of duty,” Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes previously told CityNews.

But there remains a sense of shock in the small island community, where officers have said this sort of thing has never happened before.

“It’s a pure sense of disbelief. I mean, who robs a bank on the peninsula of a fingertip of an island? It’s a befuddlement on what was going on,” the mayor said.

Anyone with information about the Auchterlonie twins, who saw the Toyota Camry in the week before the shooting, or any other details is asked to contact the Vancouver Island Major Crime Unit at 250.380.6211.

— With files from Michael Williams, Martin MacMahon, and Claire Fenton

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