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Road to recovery long for officer injured in Saanich, B.C., bank shooting

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Two years since a pivotal day in the line of duty, Const. Steven Reichert is walking again and is back in uniform twice a week.

"The community support has probably been one of the most powerful experiences of this whole incident," he told CTV News last week. "It allowed me to feel that whatever sacrifice I had made was worth it."

The Saanich police officer had been working with the Greater Victoria Emergency Response Team on the morning of June 28, 2022, when two armed gunmen would take hostages inside the Shelbourne Street Bank of Montreal, staging a robbery that would reveal an ugly motive.

"It was investigated through the Vancouver Island Integrated Major Crime Unit," Saanich police Chief Const. Dean Duthie said. "It was determined through that that, yes, this bank robbery had a bigger motive to it and that was to kill police officers, plain and simple."

"It's a lot to digest," he added.

Reichert was set to be the second member out of the police van, but he never got the chance.

"I recall being set to make that step out when suddenly I felt a very heavy impact to my left leg that caused me to look down to my leg and it was in that exact moment that I received another heavy blow to my right leg," he said.

He was shot three times.

"I never saw the suspects. I never had any moment to even get a glance at them."

The Saanich police chief had just wrapped up a policy meeting inside his office when the news came that shots were fired and officers were down.

"Time froze for me for a few seconds as I looked at the deputy chief in the eyes and we were both trying to process what we heard," Duthie said.

The suspects would end up shot dead in the parking lot, catapulting a community and its officers onto a long path toward recovery.

"We were impacted heavily, physically and mentally, but we were fortunate enough that we have all been able to walk away," Reichert said, sharing his journey for the first time.

"A huge challenge for me was going from being so active to now being in a wheelchair with no real understanding of what my future looked like as far as a recovery – whether I could get back onto my feet again and walk one day, whether I could join in with my kids on the trampoline again," the injured officer said.

"Things at some point kind of came to a head and I was faced with the reality that I'm not in a good place and I need to start doing some changes in order to positively affect what my mindset was," Reichert added.

"It was a huge shift away from just focusing on the physical side."

He hasn't been alone in his recovery.

"The injuries and the scars that are left are not gone," Duthie said. "Everybody can process and does process trauma in different ways and different speeds."

The police chief says promoting wellness is key to the department's future.

"I wasn't going to win this fight just by doing it myself," Reichert said. "And really that's the same concept as what happened on the day of the incident. I would not have been able to come away from that by myself."

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