and Amy Forliti
MINNEAPOLIS: A man fired from his job at a sign-making business pulled out a handgun and began shooting up its offices, fatally wounding the owner and four others before turning the gun on himself, police said Friday.
Andrew Engeldinger, 36, injured at least three others in the Thursday attack at Accent Signage Systems, which Police Chief Tim Dolan said lasted no more than 15 minutes. Dolan also said Engeldinger may have chosen to spare some former co-workers.
“It’s clear he did walk by some people,” Dolan said.
Engeldinger’s family said in a news release issued through the National Alliance on Mental Illness later Friday that he had struggled with mental illness for years. They offered sympathy to the victims.
“This is not an excuse for his actions, but sadly, may be a partial explanation,” the release said.
No details were released about why Engeldinger was fired. Investigators who searched his home Thursday night found a second gun and packaging for 10,000 rounds of ammunition in the house. In the shooting, Engeldinger used a 9mm Glock semiautomatic pistol he had owned for about a year, Dolan said.
“He’s obviously been practicing in how to use that gun,” Dolan said.
Among those killed was Accent Signage System owner Reuven Rahamim, 61, and Keith Basinski, 50, a UPS driver who had made deliveries and pickups at the business for years.
Relatives described Rahamim, who emigrated from Israel and spent three decades building his business after starting it in his basement, as a passionate cook and devoted to his family. Basinski was a Wisconsin native dedicated to the Green Bay Packers who Dolan said “just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
The other three men killed were identified as Rami Cooks, 62; Jacob Beneke, 34; and Ronald Edberg, 58. Two other people remained at the hospital, one in serious condition and one in critical condition.
Police received multiple 911 calls from inside the business during the attack, which Dolan described as “a hellish time.” When officers arrived, they heard no shots but found some evidence people had tried to fight back, Dolan said. He declined to elaborate.
Capt. Amelia Huffman said it appears Engeldinger got a letter of reprimand in the mail, came into the office Thursday afternoon and was then terminated.
“This had been an ongoing employee situation, which culminated in termination in the afternoon,” Huffman said. “From the best we can tell, the incident started right after Mr. Engeldinger had been fired.”
At a news conference, Dolan described Accent, a business that includes both offices and manufacturing, as a large building with many rooms branching off to the sides. There was no security and it took tactical units a long time to conduct a thorough search. They found two people hiding “a very long time” after the attack began, Dolan said.
Engeldinger’s body was found in the basement, he said.
Sue Abderholden, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness’ Minnesota chapter, said Engeldinger’s family had sought help from the group two years ago.
She said their concerns were “much more centered around paranoid thoughts. No violence or anything like that.” The Engeldingers were not able to convince Andrew to seek treatment, she said.