University of Alberta Shooting Hits Close to Home - Update II

Shots rang out just after midnight this morning at the HUB mall in the University of Alberta.  It is still very early and the information is sketchy, but what we do know is three security officers from G4S Cash Solutions, the armoured division of the company, are dead and one officer is clinging to life in hospital.

There is never any sense to be found in these incidents.  Word is a single gunman is responsible for the heist.  He or she apparently seized the armoured vehicle which was abandoned shortly after.

As of right now, the shooter is still at large.  I can only hope the perpetrator will be in custody by the time you read this.

Media and public focus will zero in on several areas, from the ongoing manhunt to the boldness of the crime itself.  Certainly if one were to consider engaging in such an unconscionable act, they would normally choose a location that offered more solitude than a university, even in the dark hours.

As someone who has spent the past several years in the Security Services industry, this tragedy hits especially close to home.  I naturally wonder about the identities of the victims.  The name on the crest may be different, but it is possible that I have met one or all of them, or even worked with them at some point in time.

These officers were experienced, highly-trained, licensed professionals.  They chose this job.  Each of them was fully aware of the risks that accompanied their duty.  They accepted those risks.

These officers were simply going through their nightly routine.  Just four people doing their often-thankless and oft-disparaged jobs.

And I guarantee whatever the number on their paycheques, it wasn’t nearly high enough.

Despite the necessary training and other requirements, the professional Security field remains on the low end of the legitimacy scale in the public conscious.  That is somewhat understandable considering the main role is to prevent something from happening that hasn’t happened yet.  Paperwork, endless/mindless patrols, dealing with sometimes less-than-friendly couriers and other members of the general public, etc., doesn’t make the job look overly appealing or important to those on the outside.

But the reality is, no matter if a security guard is patrolling a shopping mall, office tower, or oil refinery, they face the reality of being the first point of contact in the worst of situations.  There is always a risk of danger that goes with the job.  This morning is an example by proof.

If you are going to last in the industry, you must learn to take shit without reaction.  You must accept fairly low wages and the social level associated with the job title.  You must learn not to be offended by the ignorance of those who have no concept of the responsibilities that go along with being the ignorantly-labeled ‘rent-a-cop’.

The four officers must be recognized for the heroes they are, skilled Security professionals who were taken down in the line of duty.  God Bless Them.

*** Update: The four victims have been identified:  Officers Michelle Shegelski, Brian Ilisic, and Eddie Rejano apparently died at the scene.  Officer Matthew Schumm underwent emergency surgery and his condition is critical.  A massive manhunt is underway in the Greater Edmonton area for employee Travis Brandon Baumgartner, who police have stated is wanted for three counts of first-degree murder and one of attempted murder.

*** Update Sat. June 16 2012  19:05hrs: Suspected killer Travis Baumgartner was apprehended at the U.S. border crossing at Lyndon, WA near Abbotsford, B.C.

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His Name Was Steven