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The man wanted in connection with a deadly armoured-car heist at the University of Alberta had over $330,000 in cash in his vehicle when he was arrested at a U.S. border crossing adjoining British Columbia, U.S. border officers say.
Travis Baumgartner, 21, was stopped at the border crossing in Lynden, Wash., near the U.S.-Canada border southwest of Abbotsford, B.C., Edmonton police said Saturday. Border security was alerted when his licence plate was scanned by an automated system and set off an alarm warning officers that he was considered armed and dangerous.
Baumgartner had an Alberta's driver's licence but no passport when he hit the border crossing, said Tom Schreiber with U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
"Sometimes you have to scratch your head and wonder why people would knowingly come up and make contact with law enforcement," Schreiber said. "Maybe he thought he would be able to get through — I don't know."
Baumgartner was the subject of a 36-hour manhunt after the armed robbery on Friday that left three guards dead and another seriously wounded. All the victims were employees of G4S Security, the same company that Baumgartner worked for.
"We're grateful to the border officials at Lynden, Washington, for their excellent work in arresting a man we believe was armed and extremely dangerous," Edmonton police Supt. Bob Hassel wrote in a release.
Police said Saturday afternoon Baumgartner's company-issued firearm and body armour were missing, but border officials said no weapons were found in the blue Ford F-150 bearing his mother's licence plate when he was arrested.
"You go home with that warm inner feeling knowing you were able to remove a dangerous criminal from the streets of somebody's community," Schreiber said.
Friends of the victims reacted with joy upon news of the arrest.
"I was working with a friend of mine, and I found out that he had been arrested. And I'm just ecstatic," said Tyler Beckett, a friend of Michelle Shegelski, 26, who was killed in the robbery.
"I've been receiving text messages from a number of people who are saying he's been arrested. And they're using a lot of exclamation marks at the end of it. So I imagining they're all pretty happy right now."
"Now? Hopefully some justice."
John Ernst, Shegelski’s uncle, heard of the arrest through text messages from others who saw it on the news.
"It's a relief that he's caught. But for the families, this has just begun. It's far from over and it's going to be a long, long struggle," he said.
"What a phenomenal human being she was. Maybe somehow this will impact one person, or 10 people, and maybe she can still make this world a much better place, even through this tragedy."
Police have identified the guard who survived the robbery as Matthew Schuman, a corporal in the Royal Canadian Air Force stationed as a firefighter at Canadian Forces Base Edmonton who held a second job at G4S Security.
Late Friday night, Schuman was still fighting for his life in an Edmonton hospital with critical injuries.
Eddie Rejano, 39, and Brian Ilesic, 35, were the other two guards killed.