MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO/AP) — Police say five people died inside an office building, including a gunman, after a Thursday afternoon shooting in Minneapolis.
Police say the gunman died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
“This is not an everyday thing,” said Minneapolis Police Deputy Chief Kris Arneson. “This is something we see on the news in other areas, not Minneapolis.”
The shooting was first reported at 4:35 p.m. and took place at Accent Signage Systems, located at 2322 Chestnut Ave. West, in the city’s Bryn Mawr neighborhood. The first officers on the scene quickly began evacuating people from the business and closed off several blocks. Dozens of squad cars and SWAT officers swarmed the neighborhood, and traffic was stopped on a nearby bridge along Penn Avenue.
Police say four victims were taken to the Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC). Three suffered gunshots wounds and are listed in critical condition. One suffered minor injuries and is listed in satisfactory condition.
A HCMC spokesperson confirmed the names of two of those in critical condition. They are John Souter, the director of operations at Accent Signage, and Eric Rivers, the company’s project manager.
Police have no given details on a motive for the shooting.
Bryn Mawr Neighborhood In Shock
Marques Jones, 18 of Minneapolis, said he was outside a building down the street having his picture taken when he and his photographer heard gunfire.
“We heard about four to five gunshots,” Jones said. “We were shocked at what happened and we just looked at each other. We all just took off running to our vehicles.”
Witnesses, who were transported away from the scene by bus, did not respond to WCCO-TV’s questions Thursday night.
Meanwhile, the Byrn Mawr neighborhood is in shock. Many turned to prayer. Some expressed concern, wondering if their friends came out of Accent Signage OK.
One neighbor said a witness approached him moments after the shooting, saying that the gunman might have been after him.
“The gentleman came up breathing very hard, very scared,” the neighbor said.
Accent Signage Systems’ website says the company makes interior signage, and listed its founder as Reuven Rahamim. A phone message left at the business and at a residential listing for Rahamim was not immediately returned.
Dan Kantor, who works with Accent Signage, said he was planning to pick up work from the office at around 3:30 p.m. But since he didn’t want to deal with traffic, he didn’t go.
“Glad I didn’t,” he said.
He added that the people who worked at the office were “great people.”
“It’s the kind of company most people don’t even know exists,” he said.
Rybak: ‘A Great Example Of A Good Family Business’
Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak recalled a recent visit to the office.
“I was just here about a month ago, with Congressman (Keith) Ellison and federal officials, holding this up as a great example of a good family business,” Rybak said.
Rahamim started the company in his basement and invented the company’s signature product in the late 1980s.
The company’s patented Raster Braille features an implanted, domed and rounded sphere that’s supposed to offer an easy-to-read feel. It was used in hotels in China during the 2008 Olympics. You can even find it in the White House.
In all, companies in 38 countries use the technology. Rybak says Rahamim’s story is a true American dream.
“An immigrant came to this company, built an outstanding operation that became a national model for exporting,” Rybak said.
Rahamim was recently quoted saying: “For a small company out of Minneapolis, we have far-reaching projects.”
And those projects weren’t limited to Braille. The company holds at least three other patents, and in recent years has focused on green manufacturing.
Its indoor air-quality certified Materia signage came about because Rahamim’s son has asthma. He worried about other children facing the same problem from hazardous materials.
Rahamim emigrated from Israel. He said he named the company Accent Signage because he wanted it to be the first sign company listed in the phone book.
Gov. Mark Dayton, in a statement Thursday, said he deplored the “senseless violence.”
“There is no place for it anywhere in Minnesota,” he said. “I extend my deepest condolences to the families and friends of the innocent people killed or wounded.”
(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)