EDMONTON (Canadian OH&S News)
A 21-year-old employee of an armoured vehicle company is facing a slew of criminal charges in connection with an incident in which he is alleged to have fatally shot three of his co-workers and critically injured another.
Travis Baumgartner of Sherwood Park, Alberta was charged with three counts of first-degree murder, one count of attempted murder and four counts of robbery with a firearm, says Superintendent Bob Hassel of the Edmonton Police Service’s (EPS) criminal investigations division.
Just after midnight on June 15, EPS officers were called to the University of Alberta’s HUB Mall in Edmonton, a combined shopping mall and student residence, after receiving a call of shots fired, says a police news release.
Upon arrival, police determined that the shootings were the result of the armed robbery of a G4S Cash Solutions (Canada) Inc armoured vehicle making deliveries at the mall and identified Baumgartner as the lone suspect. Police found the bodies of armoured car guards Michelle Shegelski, Eddie Rejano and Brian Ilesic, and employee Matthew Schuman remained in hospital with critical, life-threatening injuries as of June 18, Hassel confirms.
The shootings sparked an expansive urban and rural manhunt for Baumgartner, which ended at about 4 pm on June 16 when he was apprehended by US Customs and Border Protection officials while trying to cross into the United States at the Lynden, Washington border crossing, southwest of Abbotsford, British Columbia.
“Mr Baumgartner was arrested peacefully and without incident, the best outcome we could have possibly hoped for,” Hassel says, adding that he was found with about $330,000 in his pick-up truck.
A team of eight EPS officers interviewed the triple-homicide suspect and he was brought back to Edmonton. “I can confirm for you today, our investigators were unable to locate Baumgartner’s firearm and body armour, which he wore that ill-fated evening last Friday, during his guard duties with G4S,” Hassel added in a statement released on June 18.
Jean Taillion, president and CEO of G4S Cash Solutions (Canada) says in a release that the company has flown in security experts as part of the company’s internal investigation to determine any possible changes to safety procedures. The company has also set up a fund in support of the victims’ families.
Case reaches into social media realm
The case touched on the influence of social media, after media reports showed Baumgartner posted violent material on his Facebook page before the shooting. “It is not uncommon for individuals prior to engaging in an act of violence to be expressing or professing or posting or sharing things on social media forums,” says David Hyde, principal consultant of David Hyde and Associates, a security management and business risk consulting and training firm in Toronto.
For employers, there should be a clear policy and complementary educational component setting out the company’s position on what is allowed and not allowed with regards to discussing company business on social media platforms on both work and home devices, Hyde says.
“There is discussion and debate around this, but the employer has an interest to make sure the employee is not jeopardizing the employer’s reputation, jeopardizing the employee legally by sharing information that may be sensitive, or from a workplace violence perspective, the kind of thing we are looking at here, where the employee starts to express viewpoints and tendencies that would give one the rise for concern about the welfare and well-being of fellow employees and even the public,” he says.
After drawing parameters, the second component is where to go if there are questions or concerns about the social media policy. “The employer has to work hard to create that safe harbour or conduit for the employee to come forward without feeling they are going to be reprimanded,” he says, adding that, in this case, it may have been that no amount of monitoring, such as for key words, could have picked up this situation. “In some cases, social media hasn’t come onto the radar screen of employers until they have got bitten by it,” he says.