Saanich, BC, witnesses to shooting recount ‘terrifying trauma’ of bank robbery

Police in Saanich, B.C., said on Saturday they were letting residents return to what had been a crime scene for days, nearly a week after a shooting injured six and killed two. twin brothers.

But for the witnesses of last Tuesday’s deadly violence, the trauma of the events persists.

“The ball [was] inside our Squeaky’s laundromat, so it was very terrifying…very close,” said laundromat owner Edward Park, whose business is facing the bank involved.

Twin brothers, 22, identified Saturday as Mathew and Isaac Auchterlonie of the town of Duncan were killed outside a Bank of Montreal branch in Saanich. Six officers were shot.

When shots rang out, Park and his employees fell to the ground, seeking cover. Police later revealed that they found a bullet just above their hiding place in some blankets.

“We were very lucky,” he said. He has since focused on resuming his activities, serving customers.

“Maybe I’m a little strange…but I have to get back to business,” he said in an interview Thursday. “I think I can overcome this kind of terrifying trauma. I think so.”

On Thursday, members of the public look through the gates of the police department in Saanich, British Columbia, where bouquets of flowers have been placed in support of injured officers. (Susana da Silva/CBC)

The effects of witnessing violent incidents can last long after the police tape has been removed.

Some develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – a condition that can include flashbacks, nightmares and intrusive memories, emotional panic or numbness, difficulty controlling their emotions and loss of self-esteem or self-esteem, says the British Columbia Ministry of Justice.

“Being a victim of crime…is a traumatic experience that can produce physical, emotional and psychological reactions that you don’t understand,” the province’s website for victims says. “It’s important to know that everyone experiences the effects of crime differently.”

“It will probably replay over and over again in their minds”

Chief of Police of Saanich Const. Dean Duthie says it’s been a tough day for everyone – witnesses, cops and bank staff. He thanked neighbors and businesses for their “understanding” amid the disruption to their lives.

“It will probably replay over and over in their minds,” Duthie told reporters. “To all customers and staff, please know that Saanich Police are thinking of you and hope you have support.”

Duthie said BC Police Victim Services is available in Saanich. The program supports all witnesses or victims of crime. There is also a confidential phone and text service, VictimLinkBC.

Shelli Fryer, 59, speaks in her Langford, B.C. home on Wednesday about the lasting effects of being trapped at a Bank of Montreal branch in Saanich, B.C., during a shootout between robbers potential bankers and the police a day earlier.  The incident left six officers injured, suspects dead, and witnesses like Fryer reeling from the traumatic events.
Shelli Fryer, 59, speaks in her Langford home on Wednesday about the lasting effects of being trapped inside a Bank of Montreal branch in Saanich during the shooting. (Radio-Canada News)

“It’s like grief. You go through all the stages

Shelli Fryer was a client held hostage at the Bank of Montreal. Her voice cracked with emotion as she remembered the police entering the bank afterwards and apologizing for the ordeal she and more than a dozen others had just endured.

“These officers … had taken six of their brothers-in-arms who had been injured running into the line of fire – to save us?” she said in an interview on Wednesday.

Now, a few days later, she says her mood is still “up and down”.

The 59-year-old said she had trouble sleeping. On Canada Day, she was still wide awake at 2:54 a.m.

The messages of support that have been pouring in since Tuesday, she said, offered some of the comfort she sought and saluted her bravery during the ordeal.

“There’s so much love I get from all these strangers,” she said.

Since then, Fryer has been mentally replaying the events of Tuesday morning.

The trauma of being held hostage comes in waves, she said. She spoke with victim services and was told it would take time to process what she experienced.

She compared it to what some consider to be common “stages of grief”, although psychologists say not everyone processes loss in the same way or in the same order.

“It’s a back and forth, you know?” she says. “It’s like heartbreak. You go through all the stages, don’t you?

“Sometimes you can never reach the final stage.”

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