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Police at the Bank of Montreal in Saanich, B.C., on June 28. Six officers were wounded in the shootout.CHAD HIPOLITO/The Canadian Press

Both Isaac and Mathew Auchterlonie – the gun-obsessed 22-year-old brothers named as suspects in a botched bank robbery in Saanich, B.C. – took steps to join the Canadian military, the Department of National Defence has confirmed.

But neither made it to the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF). The two young men were killed in a shootout with police outside a Bank of Montreal one week ago.

Six officers were wounded – all of them male and all serving with the Greater Victoria Emergency Response Team. Three of the six officers, who are in hospital, suffered life-threatening injuries.

One was a member of the Victoria Police Department. The two others served with the Saanich Police Department.

Brothers in botched B.C. bank robbery had become angry and radical, obsessed with guns and ‘government tyranny’

On Tuesday, the Saanich Police Department said one of its two officers is in stable condition, while the other remains in intensive care after three separate operations.

“The injuries are significant,” said Chief Constable Dean Duthie of the Saanich police. “It’s going to be a very long road.”

Mathew applied to join the Canadian Forces, the Department of National Defence told The Globe and Mail on Monday. He was foiled by an aptitude test he was unable to pass.

Citing “privacy,” media spokesperson Jessica Lamirande said she could not specify when Mathew’s application was made, nor when the failure occurred.

The exam is used to determine whether applicants have the mental aptitude required to enlist and which military occupation would suit them best. It has two written sections and a verbal portion.

In 2018, Isaac completed the CAF’s soldier-for-a-day program. It is intended to give potential recruits an idea of what a military career entails. Generally, they happen on a local base. Vancouver Island has two Canadian Forces bases: CFB Comox in the central island and CFB Esquimault near Victoria.

Isaac, at least, considered himself a military buff and revered the army, according to his now-locked Instagram page. (Mathew’s social media pages were taken down before the brothers were named as suspects on Sunday, friends told The Globe.)

Friends have described Mathew as the more assertive of the two. The Auchterlonie family has not issued a statement or responded to interview requests. But people who knew them say the two had grown isolated in recent years, and Isaac’s online footprint, in which Mathew features frequently, depicts them as increasingly angry, frustrated and obsessed with violence, guns and explosives.

One incident that appears to have particularly fascinated the brothers was a 1997 robbery attempt on a Bank of America branch in North Hollywood. That 25-year-old crime – still considered one of the most violent shootouts in policing history – is eerily reminiscent of what took place last week on Vancouver Island. Whether the brothers set out on a suicidal mission to mimic the earlier crime is not yet known. The RCMP, which is investigating the botched heist, said on Tuesday no further update is planned.

In both Los Angeles and Saanich, two young men entered banks wearing black balaclavas and bulletproof vests with body armour strapped to their legs. In L.A., at least, the men were armed to the teeth, carrying high-calibre assault rifles. (The RCMP will not say what weapons were used on Vancouver Island.)

Shelli Fryer, the only one of the 22 people held hostage during the incident to have addressed media so far, said the brothers, who appeared calm and spoke softly to the bank manager, were in no hurry to leave.

In North Hollywood, Larry Phillips Jr. and Emil Matasareanu managed to draw police into a 44-minute gun battle in a Laurel Canyon parking lot that injured 13. Both men were shot dead by police.

Former Los Angeles Police Department SWAT officer Rick Massa told CNN the two “had no care for life,” adding “this was obvious when they came out of the bank and started shooting at anyone that moved. They didn’t care.”

Mr. Matasareanu’s mother later told the Los Angeles Times that she believes her son was on a suicide mission: “He cannot handle it anymore – those were his words. He said to me that he wanted to die.”

The RCMP have not said how long the brothers shot at police in the BMO lot, but from witness accounts, it was over in several minutes.

In another strange coincidence, the Auchterlonie brothers lived an hour-and-a-half drive from two other young men who acted on violent fantasies: Bryer Schmegelsky and Kam McLeod. After murdering three people in Northern B.C., the pair from Port Alberni – aged 18 and 19, respectively – triggered one of the largest manhunts in Canadian history.

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