An armed robbery attempt occurred early Friday morning at HUB Mall, leaving three G4S Cash Solutions Canada employees dead and one in critical condition at the hospital.
The crew arrived at the mall just after midnight to make a delivery to ATM machines.
Edmonton Police Service confirmed that at approximately 12:10 a.m., multiple gunshots were fired, killing two of the males, and one female member of the crew.
University of Alberta Protective Services responded to the first alarm within minutes, and Residence Services staff ushered students to the opposite end of the mall. Only after EPS arrived and checked rooms throughout HUB to make sure there was no remaining threat was the HUB Mall alert system sounded.
The armoured van used in the delivery was found abandoned this morning with the engine still running approximately 10 kilometres from where the incident occurred.
“Our understanding is that the university campus is safe, and that this wasn’t random,” Students’ Union Vice-President (Academic) Dustin Chelen said.
“Certainly (there was) some alarm, confusion and panic, but I think that this is just a time where we have to sit back and let Edmonton Police Services continue with their investigation.”
In a press release Friday morning, Provost and acting president Carl Amrhein offered his condolences to the families of the deceased. Amrhein emphasized that the safety and support for faculty and students is the current priority for the university at this time.
One concern of the university community was that the U of A Emergency Notification System was slow to respond — with the first notification not posted on the U of A website until 3:28 a.m., already hours after the incident occurred.
Social media such as Twitter played a larger role in notifying students. One came from a U of A Safewalk volunteer, reading, “Tonight, a friend and I discovered 3 shot security guards. Two were dead, one was screaming for us to help him. Worst night ever.”
Trish Paton, a second-year Masters student in Communication and Technology, noted a lapse in communication between the university and student.
“There was no text to me until 9 a.m., no emails at all, (and) I know I’m on the emergency list. I understand the wish not to panic, but I think reassurance and direction are vital, and were obviously needed by students in HUB at the time,” she said.
EPS has identified 21-year-old Travis Brandon Baumgartner as a person of interest in the investigation. Baumgartner is an employee of G4S Cash Solutions Canada and believed to be one of several armoured company employees that attended the U of A around midnight.
Baumgartner drives a dark blue Ford pickup truck with Alberta license plate ZRE 724. EPS has urged the public not to approach him if spotted and to contact them immediately instead.
Students are able to have defer exams scheduled for today through the usual system, and counselling services are being extended to both students and faculty members.
HUB Mall will remain closed until 7 p.m. tonight.
More to come
With files from Matt Hirji, Canadian University Press.
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