A man accused of being the notorious bank robber police nicknamed the "The Vaulter" unsuccessfully tried to shake the four officers who were sent to Europe to bring him back to Canada to face charges, police say.
At a news conference this morning, York Regional Police said Jeffrey James Shuman, 53, began to complain of chest pains last week while on a flight en route to Canada from Geneva, Switzerland, where he was arrested and ordered extradited.
At the time, Shuman was accompanied by four officers who travelled to Switzerland to escort him back to Toronto via Montreal after his extradition had been approved.
Police said Shuman, who now faces charges in more than 21 robberies in Canada, tried to fake a heart attack over French airspace in an attempt to force the plane to land in France, where he has citizenship.
Instead, the Geneva-to-Montreal flight was diverted to London's Heathrow Airport. Once in London, it was determined Shuman had no medical issues and arrangements were made to take him to Canada on another commercial flight.
When police tried to put Shuman on another flight at Heathrow, he began to resist officers at the airport.
A York police press release said Shuman attempted to break free from officers on the ramp to the awaiting aircraft and had to be physically restrained.
After he kicked up that fuss, no commercial airline would agree to transport him, leaving officers with a dilemma that was resolved when Ontario's Ministry of the Attorney General agreed to charter a private plane that eventually transported Shuman and his police escorts back to Toronto on Sunday.
Police believe Shuman is responsible for 21 bank robberies over the last five years, including 12 in York Region, two in Peel Region, two in Calgary and one each in the cities of Hamilton, Ottawa and Toronto. The robberies occurred between February 2010 and May 2015.
Shuman now faces 30 charges, including 11 counts of armed robbery.
Known as 'Reebok Bandit' in U.S.
York police said Shuman was born in California and spent some time in the U.S. Navy before working in the banking and mortgage industry.
"Between 1992 and mid-1993, he was involved in a series of bank robberies in the southern US, predominantly Florida and Tennessee where he's alleged to have committed 15 robbery occurrences. He was referred to down in the U.S. at that time as the Reebok Bandit and in those instances he'd vault the counter," Det. Sgt. Mike Fleischaker said Tuesday.
Police say Shuman was arrested, convicted and sentenced to about 12 years in prison for those robberies.
In the Greater Toronto Area, The Vaulter would enter banks during business hours and "vault over the counter and take cash from the tellers," Fleischaker said.
The robberies gained widespread media attention, and police said The Vaulter was bold, not bothering to hide his face.
As the robberies continued, The Vaulter became more violent, according to police, entering banks before they opened for business and threatening employees with a gun. In a Toronto-area robbery, police said an employee was locked inside a bank vault.
Police believe the last robbery connected to The Vaulter happened in Mississauga in May 2015.
Police identified Shuman as a suspect and tracked him to Europe.
After a warrant was issued for his arrest, Shuman was nabbed by Swiss police in September while crossing from France. Police in Ontario had applied for his extradition in October, and it was approved in December. Shuman's attempt to appeal the extradition ordered failed.