10/03/2012 02:52 EDT | Updated 12/03/2012 05:12 EST

Alberta University Defends Handling Of Armoured Guard Ambush


The University of Alberta is defending its decision not to implement the campus emergency notification system to alert students to a shooting at HUB Mall that killed three armoured truck guards last June.

Police believe Travis Baumgartner, 21, gunned down his co-workers for cash. He faces 3 counts of first-degree murder and one of attempted murder.

Baumgartmer was the fifth armed guard in a team loading ATMs. He escaped the scene but was caught at the U.S. border the next day.

Many students complained the university should have sent an electronic warning to tell people to stay away from the mall after the shooting.

Following an investigation, the university’s risk management services office determined that the situation was handled appropriately and in a timely manner, said Philip Stack, associate vice-president of risk management services.

“There were some very real and legitimate worries and anxiety people expressed to us concerning the decisions made with regard to the communication of the June 15 incident to the university community,” Stack said in press release Wednesday.

“Based on the facts associated with the incident and our current policies on the use of the system, we have determined that the university acted clearly within defined policies and procedures," he said.

Report recommends improved sharing of info

But Stack's report concluded the university did not have all the information it needed to make a decision whether to activate the emergency alert system.

"During the first minutes of the HUB incident, EPS may have had information not available to UAPS (University of Alberta Protective Systems)," said the report.

"The decision not to use the notification system was in keeping with current policy due to the fact that the exact nature of the event was not confirmed by UAPS," it said.

"Improved sharing of information will help decision-making, especially as it relates to the use of the emergency notification system," the report recommended.

Some students believe the University of Alberta should use social media applications like Twitter to get the word out about emergencies.

"In our generation that is something that is quite applicable and that would be an avenue that would be worth exploring," said Holly Swanson.

Leah Denjenu says the university should have alerted students sooner the night of the shootings.

"There were students walking when it happened ... yeah, I think it's important to get a safety notice right away."

The report makes 18 other recommendations on how to better handle other emergencies in the future.

A third-party report focusing on the university's communications and interaction with the Edmonton Police Service is expected before the end of the year.

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