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Man kills 5 people, then himself in Minneapolis

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Posted at 9:46 PM, Sep 29, 2012
and last updated 2012-09-29 21:46:25-04

Hours after getting laid off, a 36-year-old Minneapolis man returned to his former workplace and opened fire, killing five, including a business owner recently honored at the White House, before turning his gun on himself.

Minneapolis police and city officials described Friday what happened over the span of 10 or 15 minutes the previous afternoon, when the man walked through the loading dock of Accent Signage Systems and started shooting.

“It was a hellish time,” police Chief Timothy Dolan said.

The dead include Reuven Rahamim, the company’s founder and president of a fast-growing company that specializes in interior signs that help the visually impaired.

The Israeli-born Rahamim “came to this country to live the American dream, and he did,” said Mayor R.T. Rybak. But beyond growing his business, the 61-year-old also had “an enormously important part of this community,” active on several task forces and groups.

“He’s an example of somebody who climbed the ladder of success and didn’t pull (the ladder) up but tried every way possible to get other people up on that rung, too,” Rybak said. “We owe a tremendous debt to Reuven.”

According to the mayor, civic leaders volunteered Rahamim’s name when the White House asked for examples of “good, small, local businesses doing exporting.” The Minnesota resident went to the White House in March, and the White House called Friday to offer its condolences over Rahamim’s death, Rybak said.

A 29-year UPS employee, Keith Basinski, was shot dead on the loading dock, according to Jill Schubert, the president of the delivery company’s Northern Plains district. Dolan said Basinski, 50, was simply in the “wrong place, wrong time.”

The Hennepin County Medical Examiner identified all of the victims, including Rahamim and Basinski, on Friday night. They include Jacob Beneke, 34; Ronald Edberg, 58; and Rami Cooks, 62. Cooks is the only one of the victims who succumbed to his injuries at a local hospital — the others died at the scene — according to the medical examiner.

The police chief said the shooter is believed to be Andrew Engeldinger.

Dolan said the 36-year-old was fired Thursday morning and then came to Accent in the city’s Bryn Mawr neighborhood about 4:25 p.m. and “immediately started shooting” but spared some, especially as he moved through the office building.

Officers arrived within minutes and went into the complex, quickly finding casualties, the police chief said. No more shots were fired after they arrived. They found Engeldinger in the basement, where he had committed suicide, according to the medical examiner.

“He was in a location where there was one casing on the floor, and he was dead,” Dolan said Friday afternoon.

Engeldinger’s mother and father read a brief statement Friday outside their home in nearby Richfield.

“Our son struggled for years with mental illness,” the parents said after offering their condolences to the shooting victims. “In the last few years, he no longer had contact with us. This is not an excuse for his actions but, sadly, may be a partial explanation.”

A 9 mm semiautomatic Glock pistol was used in the shooting, according to Dolan. Police also searched Engeldinger’s Minneapolis apartment and found another handgun “and packaging for 10,000 rounds of ammunition,” the chief added.

Two men remained hospitalized Friday, one in critical condition and the other in serious condition, according Minneapolis police spokesman Sgt. Steven McCarty.

The officers who responded have been put on leave, which the chief said can happen “if they experience something traumatic.”

Rybak said officials will work to make sure that Accent Signage Systems remains in business after its founder’s violent death.

Since being founded in Rahamim’s basement in 1984, Accent has steadily grown — including developing a patent for technology that imprints Braille on things like hotel room numbers and restroom signs — and now employs 30 people and earns $5 million to $10 million each year, CNN affiliate KARE reported.

“(Accent employees) had a horrible day that is beyond what anybody should have to have, but we owe it to them to make sure that they have many more productive days at work,” Rybak said. “And we will be focused on that as we move forward.”