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Canada Security company probing Edmonton shooting with eye on improved safety

Edmonton Police Services Chief Rod Knecht, right, and G4S Secure Solutions president and CEO Jean Tallion prepare to address the media on a deadly shooting at the University of Alberta on June 18, 2012.

Jordan Verlage/THE CANADIAN PRESS

The private security company at the centre of last week's deadly armoured-car heist in Edmonton is conducting an internal investigation and will, if necessary, rewrite its policies or procedures to improve safety, its head said Monday.

At a joint news conference with police, Jean Tallion, president and chief executive officer of G4S Cash Solutions Canada, told reporters in Edmonton that while the company's focus remains on the recovery of the critically wounded security guard, as well as the families of the three killed in the melee at the University of Alberta, it's also in the midst of its own probe into "many matters" related to the robbery allegedly carried out by one of its own employees – Travis Baumgartner.

"In addition to the police investigation, we have flown out our own security experts as part of G4S internal investigation," said Mr. Tallion. "This is standard practice for any major incident. We do all review aspects to determine if there's lessons to be learned and if there is, we will implement these changes as we go forward."

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Mr. Tallion did not take questions about what issues internal auditors would address or what recommendations could result in light of the attack, which occurred while G4S workers were refilling bank machines just after midnight Friday morning during a stop on the main university campus.

However, the union that represents the G4S security guards, as well as others in the industry in Alberta, suggested that more in-depth psychological analysis might be necessary to help weed out potentially dangerous employees.

Richard Eichel, the Calgary-based secretary, treasurer and principal officer for Teamsters Local 362, which represents the G4S workers across the Prairies, said the union has been fielding calls from across the country about how the workplace can be made safer.

"Do you do more psychological testing?" he said. "How much and how far do you go? Who knows."

"We'll definitely be looking at some kind of large scale and broad type of review of measures nationally," he added.

Still, Mr. Eichel said this case may be just a "bizarre aberration" by one employee at his breaking point.

"Who knows what happened when he got to work that night," he said.

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Meanwhile, police said Mr. Baumgartner is the sole suspect and has been "co-operating" with investigators since his arrest at the U.S.-Canadian border Saturday afternoon. The 21-year-old, who had been employed with G4S since April, approached the border station between the American town of Lynden, Wash., and the B.C. community of Aldergrove in his blue 2011 Ford F-150 pickup truck. According to officials, he was carrying $334,000 in cash and was arrested without incident.

Mr. Baumgartner is to be charged with three charges of first-degree murder, one of attempted murder and four counts of armed robbery.

"He is co-operating with our investigators," said Edmonton Police Service Superintendent Bob Hassel.

"We also believe, at this time, that Baumgartner was the lone perpetrator in these shootings and robbery," he said.

A forensic examination of Mr. Baumgartner's vehicle has been conducted. The G4S's body armour and weapon that Mr. Baumgartner would have worn while on the job is still missing. Mr. Baumgartner, who is being held in Langley, B.C. appeared before a justice of the peace Sunday and will be transferred to Edmonton within days to stand before a judge.

Supt. Hassel would provide few other details in order to protect the "integrity of the investigation."

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The full search warrant connected to Mr. Baumgartner's arrest was sealed, but police were looking for a gun, ammunition, a uniform, "black combat-style boots," the missing cash, a computer to check internet searches and DNA.

Mr. Baumgartner is accused of killing Michelle Shegelski, 26, a newlywed who had worked for G4S since 2008 and was training new workers. The new employees, Brian Ilesic, 35, and Eddie Rejano, 39, also died.

A fourth guard, military firefighter Matthew Schuman, remains in critical condition in hospital, police said.

According to public plea released Friday night by Mr. Baumgartner's mother, Sandy, the two had a fight before the shootings. Money woes in the family had also been reported.

Postings on Mr. Baumgartner's Facebook page showed excitement for his new job at G4S and getting a gun as well as musings about whether he would make the news if he started "poping [sic] people off."

Mr. Tallion said a trust fund has been set up through TD Canada Trust for the families of the victims.

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"Our thoughts and prayers remain with their families and friends. We'll do everything we can to help and support these families through a difficult time," he said, "Our thoughts are also with the Baumgartner family."

Edmonton Police Chief Rod Knecht said the loss is "shocking and brutal" both for the families of the victims, but also the officers who responded to the call.

"Our investigators have described the scene as one of unimaginable carnage," he said, adding that the "tragic nature of the crime scene" has prompted some officers to seek counselling.

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