|U.S. Border Agent assist the Canadian Border Agency with Travis Baumgartner at Aldergrove/Lynden border crossing in Aldergrove British Columbia, Saturday June 16, 2012. (QMI Agency/CARMINE MARINELLI)
EDMONTON -- Family of the victims of a deadly 2012 shooting at the University of Alberta tearfully expressed their anger and sorrow Monday as the man responsible pleaded guilty.
Travis Baumgartner, 22, was convicted of one count of first-degree murder, two counts of second-degree murder and one count of attempted murder in connection with the deadly June 15, 2012, shooting at the Hub Mall.
“It is hard to imagine four lives could be so changed in just a few moments,” said Dianne Ilesic, the mother of 35-year-old Brian Ilesic, one of the victims. “None of our lives will ever be the same.”
In her victim-impact statement, she accused Baumgartner of betraying his fellow G4S Cash Solutions armoured car company co-workers.
“These deaths were violent,” she repeated twice at the end of her statement.
The husband and parents of Michelle Shegelski, 26, and the wife of Eddie Rejano, 39, also read out victim-impact statements.
The hulking and pale-faced Baumgartner was wearing a suit and, while he stood in the prisoner’s box and said “confirmed” in a deep voice while entering his pleas, he mainly sat slumped with his arms folded across his chest, with his eyes sometimes closed and appearing disinterested, as the victim-impact statements were read out.
According to the agreed facts, Baumgartner was with the three victims and a fourth co-worker, Matthew Schuman -- who was left in critical condition after being shot point-blank in the head, but has since partially recovered -- as they went on a routine circuit replenishing money in city ATMs.
After entering a secure vestibule providing access to two ATMs at the HUB Mall with Shegelski, Schuman and Ilesic, Baumgartner removed his .38-calibre handgun from its holster and shot Schuman once in the head before shooting Shegelski once in the head and then Ilesic twice in the head. All were at point-blank range.
Shegelski and Ilesic were both killed instantly.
Baumgartner left the victims locked inside the vestibule and went quickly through HUB Mall back to the armoured car. He then reloaded his gun and shot Rejano underneath his right eye and then twice in the back of the head.
He then left in the armoured car and went back to the G4S worksite, where he removed three packages of cash, estimated to be $360,000, got into his pickup truck and drove off. After dropping cash off at two friends’ homes, he went to his mother’s home and changed clothes, leaving about $64,000 on the kitchen table before driving off in his truck.
Court heard Baumgartner then drove west, stopping near Banff to discard his gun and vest in a river, and ended up at a U.S. border station near Langley, B.C., where he was arrested.
Baumgartner told the border guards, who found $333,000 in a backpack, that he didn’t remember anything and claimed he had been snatched by an armed man who told him he had to deliver the backpack to Seattle or his family would be killed.
He later admitted to the killings and told police he had been “mad at the world” and “very angry.”
He also admitted aiming for the victims’ heads and said he was in a “blind rage.”
Court heard Rejano, Ilesic and Shegelski all died as a result of gunshot wounds to the head. Schuman, 26, is still recovering from a brain injury. He can walk, talk, comprehend and express himself, but his prognosis is unknown.
Baumgartner is expected to be sentenced to life in prison, but his exact sentence is not yet clear.
Timeline of the 2012 Hub Mall shootings:
June 15, 12:10 a.m. — Four G4S Security guards stopped at the U of A’s Hub Mall in two armoured cars to exchange funds at a bank’s ATM machine. Three were shot and killed inside the mall. A fourth security guard was found critically injured outside mall north entrance.
1 a.m. — Surveillance footage shows a G4S armoured car returning from Hub Mall to a G4S facility in southeast Edmonton. A man exits the armoured car and gets into a truck and drives away.
1:15 a.m. — All students at the university are notified of the shooting over the Hub Mall’s intercom system.
10 a.m. — Police surround and seize the second armoured car found in southeast Edmonton.
11:00 a.m. — Police Chief Rod Knecht announces investigators are searching for 21-year-old Travis Brandon Baumgartner, a G4S Security guard who they believe was involved.
1 p.m. — Police tactical units sweep Flamingo Dr. in Sherwood Park as they close in on the home where they believe Baumgartner was living.
3 p.m. — City cops file Canada-wide warrants for Baumgartner. He is charged with three counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder.
June 16 — After a 36-hour manhunt Baumgartner is arrested at the Lynden, Wash., border crossing, southwest of Abbotsford B.C. He was carrying more than $330,000 in Canadian currency.
Sept. 9 — Baumgartner goes to trial, by judge alone.