Prosecutors say a former armoured car guard who admits he gunned down four of his colleagues should get life in prison with no chance of parole for 40 years. Such a penalty would be the first under a federal law enacted in 2011 that allows for consecutive sentences in multiple-murder cases.
Travis Baumgartner pleaded guilty Monday to one count of first-degree murder and two counts of second-degree murder in a plea bargain. He was originally charged with first-degree murder in three deaths. He also admitted to an original charge of attempted murder in the serious wounding of a fourth guard.
The Crown says there were many aggravating factors in the crime, including a betrayal of trust and the fact that Mr. Baumgartner “did it all for money.”
The prosecution pointed out that it would be the harshest penalty in Canada since the last execution in 1962.
Mr. Baumgartner is alleged to have methodically shot his fellow guards from security company G4S in the head as they reloaded ATMs at the University of Alberta campus in June, 2012.
A statement of facts entered in court said Mr. Baumgartner shot three of the guards as they had their backs to him, then returned to the waiting armoured truck and shot a fourth co-worker.
Court was told he had joked with a friend about robbing his employer and had sent a text that said: “This is the night.”
Mr. Baumgartner’s first-degree murder plea applies to the death of Eddie Rejano, 39, a father of three who had started working for the company six months earlier. Mr. Baumgartner pleaded guilty to second-degree in the deaths of newlywed Michelle Shegelski, 26, and Brian Ilesic, 35, the father of a daughter.
Matthew Schuman, who was 25 at the time, was rushed to hospital and survived a bullet to the head.
Mr. Rejano’s wife was among the first to give a victim impact statement in court. She cried as she told the judge, who was hearing the case without a jury, that her husband did not deserve to die so violently. Her young son stood on a chair behind her as she spoke and, at one point, reached over and softly wiped his mother’s tears from her face.
Mr. Schuman’s statement was read for him. It said Mr. Baumgartner changed his life forever that day – taking his health, his career and his relationship from him. It said Mr. Schuman lost a portion of his brain when he was shot, can’t feel the right side of his body and is having to learn to read and write again.
Court heard that Mr. Baumgartner owed friends money, had just bought a new truck and had argued with his mother about rent before his last shift.
“At least I don’t have to pay for the truck anymore,” he told an undercover police officer after his arrest. “No bills for me.”
Police quickly named Mr. Baumgartner, who was 21, as a suspect after the early-morning shootings. He was arrested the next day in British Columbia at a Canada-U.S. border crossing. Police said they found $334,000 in a backpack he had with him.
The agreed statement says Mr. Baumgartner claimed he’d been kidnapped and had been told by a man to drive to Seattle or his family would be killed. He said he didn’t remember the last few days.
Search warrants revealed that his mother told officers she woke up the morning of the shooting to find $64,000 in cash in her home.
Questions about how G4S screens its employees arose as details were uncovered about the accused shooter. Last fall, company president Jean Taillon said a review was done after the shooting, but the same policies are still in use.
The Facebook page of a Travis Baumgartner posted quotes by the anarchist Joker from the movie The Dark Knight. The movie included a violent bank heist. The profile picture on the Facebook page showed a person wearing sunglasses and a mask.
Two weeks before the shooting, the page also had a post that mused: “I wonder if I’d make the six o’clock news if I just starting popping people off.”
A former co-worker who trained with Mr. Baumgartner said he acted odd on the job and his moods sometimes changed suddenly.