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Greater Victoria officer recalls risking own life for bank shooting hostages

Tactical team leader who was shot reflects on recovery, community support ahead of 2nd anniversary
Victoria police Staff Sgt. John Musicco, a Greater Victoria Emergency Response Team member injured in the 2022 Bank of Montreal shooting in Saanich, shared details of the incident and recovery a day before Friday, June 28 – the event's second anniversary.

Warning: This story contains graphic descriptions of a violent shootout.

Sitting in plain-looking clothes by himself in the front of a covert police van, a partition separates John Musicco with five other tactical officers behind him. 

It's at that moment when one of two rifle-wielding gunmen in the Saanich Bank of Montreal's parking lot turns and starts firing on the van. 

"From that point I can see my life basically like flashing before my eyes," the Victoria police staff sergeant said Thursday (June 27). 

He responded by drawing his pistol and firing through the police van's windshield. Musicco was shot in the foot in the June 28, 2022, exchange of gunfire that wounded all six responding officers and killed the two suspects, who were Vancouver Island brothers that police say had the sole intention of killing and injuring as many officers as possible.


In the lead up to Friday (June 28), marking two years since the shooting, the VicPD officer is the second member of the Greater Victoria Emergency Response Team (GVERT) to share details of the incident and the community support police received in the aftermath. 

On the day of the shooting, Musicco was GVERT's team leader. The tactical unit was on another operation a few kilometres away when they got word that two suspects donning balaclavas and armed with firearms had entered the bank.

As Musicco pulled the covert van up to the bank, he drove by it to get a look at the situation, but the branch's reflective glass offered little insight. As he connected with another police team, only about a minute passed before the van's members were told the suspects were exiting the bank. It was a challenging position, the officer said, as the team had only a couple minutes in total to prepare their response against the two armed suspects. 

"I know there's hostages inside of that bank and my mission at that stage is to save those hostages," Musicco said, adding his aim was to wedge the van between the brothers and the bank.

"When I see (the brothers) come out, now in my mind, I have separation between the hostages and the suspects and under no circumstance am I going to let them return inside that bank."

That's when he decided to go with a take-down in the parking lot and the exchange of gunfire immediately followed. 

"I'm willing to risk my life for the citizens of this community and I know the six members in the back of that van are willing to do the exact same thing," Musicco said. 

The trading of gunfire lasted around 26 seconds in total, the officer said, but it exposed him to a significant amount of trauma after he was shot in his right foot and the five friends he was responsible for were also wounded – three of them suffering life-threatening injuries. 

Musicco's wound likely came from a ricochet police round that's left him with significant nerve damage and mobility issues. But he's clear that his injuries pale in comparison to those inflicted on his fellow five officers. 

The emotional healing from the incident will likely take a lifetime to work through, Musicco said. With his voice cracking slightly and emotion welling up in his face, he also noted that police weren't the only ones affected. 

"Regardless of their motive, two people lost their lives that day," the officer said. "They most likely have family members that love them, or care for them, and those family members have now lost somebody."  

In the wake of the event, Musicco said the response from the community was unparalleled and that positive support still helps him get up for work. Neighbours brought gift baskets to his family when he was injured and the force received a flurry of thankful messages after the incident. 

"When we walk through the doors of the police department and there's just tables and tables or cards lined up and letters of appreciation, it really solidifies the reason why you get into this job in the first place, which is always to help people."






Jake Romphf

About the Author: Jake Romphf

In early 2021, I made the move from the Great Lakes to Greater Victoria with the aim of experiencing more of the country I report on.
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