Police: Mpls. Gunman Had Just Been Fired
MINNEAPOLIS (AP/WCCO) — A man fired from his job at a Minneapolis 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 attack Thursday at Accent Signage Systems. Police Chief Tim Dolan said the attack lasted no more than 10 or 15 minutes, and said Engeldinger may have chosen to spare some former co-workers.
The attack lasted no more than 10 or 15 minutes, Dolan estimated, and Engeldinger may have chosen to spare some former co-workers.
“It’s clear he did walk by some people, very clear,” Dolan said.
Dolan said there’s evidence people fought back.
“Yes, that was in the office area,” he said. “And it was clear that there was a big fight in one of the offices. There were rounds that were fired at that office and from that office.”
Capt. Amelia Huffman says it appears Engeldinger got a letter of reprimand in the mail, came into the office Thursday afternoon and was then terminated. She says shots were fired after a struggle in the office.
Investigators who searched Engeldinger’s house Thursday night in south Minneapolis found another gun and packaging for 10,000 rounds of ammunition in the house. In the shooting, Engeldinger used a 9mm Glock semi-automatic 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 (pictured), a UPS driver who had made deliveries and pickups at the business for years.
“He just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Dolan said of Basinski.
The other victims weren’t immediately identified. Two people remained at Hennepin County Medical Center on Friday, one in serious condition and one critical.
“It was a hellish time,” Dolan said of the attack.
Police received multiple 911 calls from inside the business. When they arrived, Dolan said, they heard no shots.
He described Accent, a business that includes both offices and manufacturing, as a large building with many rooms branching off to the sides. It took tactical units a long time to thoroughly search the building, and they found two people hiding “a very long time” after the attack began, Dolan said.
There was no security at the building, he said.
Engeldinger’s uncle, Joe Engeldinger of New Germany, Minn., called his nephew a “good kid” who seemed normal and well-adjusted until about two years ago when he broke off contact with his entire family.
“When I would see his family, I would ask them about Andy and nobody could ever tell me anything,” Joe Engeldinger said. He couldn’t specifically remember the last time he saw his nephew, but said it may have been at a family birthday party about three years ago.
They were once much closer. Joe Engeldinger, a professional handyman, said Andrew lived with him for a time in the early 1990s shortly after graduating high school, and worked for him helping to renovate old houses.
“He was a good worker. I never didn’t trust him with anything,” Joe Engeldinger said.
Charles and Carolyn Engeldinger raised Andrew and his two siblings in Richfield, a suburb directly south of Minneapolis, according to Joe Engeldinger. He said his nephew graduated from high school but didn’t attend college, and was excited early in the last decade when he bought his first house — the modest bungalow in south Minneapolis that police raided late Thursday night, hours after the shooting.
Thomas Pitheon, a neighbor who lived across a rear alley and just down from Engeldinger’s house, said he sometimes exchanged greetings with the man he knew as Andrew but that he rarely made much of an impression otherwise.
“We just said hi, how you doing, that sort of thing,” Pitheon said Friday. “He seemed like an average guy.”
Pitheon said he “put two and two together” Thursday night after hearing about the shooting on the radio, then arriving home after dark to find “about a dozen” SWAT teams swarming around Engeldinger’s house.
Joe Engeldinger said Andrew’s immediate family were having a “horrible time” since learning what happened. He said they were as befuddled as anyone about why he withdrew from loved ones.
“I can only assume there was some kind of mental break there,” Joe Engeldinger said. “He wasn’t a monster. He wasn’t. He was a real good kid, a real good person. He had a real good heart. I don’t know what made all this transpire. Hopefully the truth will come out, and won’t get twisted into some demented thing.”
The Engeldinger family gave out a statement through the National Alliance on Mental Illness Friday, saying: “Our hearts go out to the families of the people killed and those who were wounded in this tragedy. Nothing we can say can make up for their loss.”
The family said Engeldinger had struggled with mental illness for years.
Alliance director Sue Abderholden says the family had approached the group for help about two years ago. That’s about when Engeldinger’s uncle says his nephew broke off contact with his family.
Abderholden says Engeldinger’s parents took a class on understanding and dealing with mental illness. But she says they couldn’t convince Engeldinger to seek help.
“This is not an excuse for his actions, but sadly, may be a partial explanation,” the family’s statement said.
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