September 28, 2012 / 12:15 AM / 7 years ago

Minneapolis workplace shooter lost job hours before rampage

MINNEAPOLIS (Reuters) - Police identified on Friday the disgruntled former employee who killed five people and took his own life in a shooting rampage at a Minneapolis sign company from which he had been fired.

Minnesota State Patrol officers man the Penn Avenue bridge over Bassett's Creek near the scene of a triple shooting at a business on the 2300 block of Chestnut Avenue West in Minneapolis, Minnesota, September 27, 2012. REUTERS/John Autey/Pioneer Press

Hours after losing his job on Thursday, the 36-year-old gunman, Andrew Engeldinger, entered Accent Signage Systems Inc. through a loading dock door with a 9mm semiautomatic handgun and began firing, police said. Some of his victims were likely targeted.

Engeldinger was found dead by officers in the basement of the building with a single shell casing next to him, Police Chief Tim Dolan told a news conference. It was the state’s worst workplace killing in at least two decades.

“It is clear that he did walk by some people, very clear, especially when he went in the office area. He did walk by people to get to certain other members of the business,” Dolan said.

He said police officers searching the building some time later found two people hiding from the gunman.

At Engeldinger’s house, police turned up a second gun and packaging for 10,000 rounds of ammunition, Dolan said. He was believed to have acquired the handguns legally last year.

Dolan declined to say why Engeldinger was fired or what his job had been at the company, the only manufacturing business located among the mix of single-family homes and parks in the tree-lined section of the Bryn Mawr neighborhood of Minneapolis.

Before taking his own life, Engeldinger shot dead four people at the office building. A fifth victim, 62-year-old Rami Cooks, who had been taken to Hennepin County Medical Center in critical condition after the shooting, died later on Thursday, authorities said.

The Hennepin County Medical Examiner in a statement identified the other victims as Keith Basinski, 50; Ronald Edberg, 58; Jacob Beneke, 34; and Reuven Rahamim, 61, who was the company founder. The company is known for a process of making interior signs with durable Braille text lettering.

One man remained in critical condition and another was in serious condition, a hospital spokeswoman said. Another person was treated and released.

Thursday’s shooting was reported at 4:35 p.m. CDT (5.35 p.m. EDT). As officers arrived on the scene and entered the front of the building, they immediately encountered shooting victims, Dolan said. Paramedics then entered without waiting for the scene to be secured.

Rahamim, an Israeli immigrant, started a sign business out of his basement that grew to have 28 employees and an expected revenue of $5 million to $10 million this year, according to the publication Finance & Commerce.

Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak said Friday in a Facebook posting that Rahamim “was so proud of everything that he and his family have built in this country, and he had a right to be”.

The Minneapolis shooting was a month after a work-related shooting near the Empire State Building in New York, which killed two people and wounded nine.

Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak is briefed by Minneapolis Police Deputy Chief Kris Arneson, (R), before a news conference near the scene of the workplace shooting in the Byrn Mawr neighborhood of Minneapolis, Minnesota September 27, 2012. REUTERS/Ben Garvin/Pioneer Press

This followed a July mass shooting in a crowded cinema in Colorado and an attack on a Sikh temple in Wisconsin in August, which rekindled debate about gun control in the United States.

Minnesota work-place homicide records date back only to 1992 and no one incident had resulted in more than two homicides.

Nationally, there were 458 workplace homicides in 2011 and 518 in 2010, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

Reporting by David Bailey; Editing by Paul Thomasch, Todd Eastham and Andrew Hay

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