EDMONTON — A man charged in a bloody armoured car heist at the University of Alberta has reached a plea deal in the deaths of three of his colleagues.
Travis Baumgartner has pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree murder and two counts of second-degree murder before a judge alone.
He has also admitted to an original charge of attempted murder in the serious wounding of a fourth guard.
An overnight crew of five armed guards employed by security company G4S was reloading ATM machines on the university campus in June 2012.
A statement of facts entered in court says Baumgartner shot three guards in the head as they stood with 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.”
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. 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.
Family members were delivering victim impact statements immediately after the guilty pleas Monday.
Court heard that 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 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 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 “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 Baumgartner said he acted odd on the job and his moods sometimes changed suddenly.