Accent Signage Systems shooting: First victims fought for their lives

  • Article by: MATT MCKINNEY , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 2, 2012 - 1:17 PM

Managers tried to wrest gun from Andrew Engeldinger, who pulled it after he was fired.

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A family members of Ron Edberg consoled his son Dusty, center, in front of an informal memorial made for the victims in front of Accent Signage Systems in Minneapolis on Saturday Sept. 29, 2012. Ron Edberg was one of the employees that lost his life Thursday at the hands of Andrew Engeldinger.

Photo: Kyndell Harkness, Star Tribune

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Confronted with a fired employee who pulled a gun, two managers at Accent Signage Systems, Inc., struggled with the man for control of the weapon.

It was a fight they lost, and moments after gunman Andrew Engeldinger shot them both, he continued with one of the worst mass shootings in Minnesota history.

The effort of Rami Cooks and John Souter to stop the massacre was one of many details released Monday in a four-page Minneapolis police report of what took place last Thursday, when Engeldinger used a 9mm Glock handgun to kill Cooks and four others and injure three more employees, including Souter. Engeldinger then committed suicide.

Engeldinger, a longtime employee who had clashed with his superiors over tardiness and poor performance, moved from location to location within the business in Minneapolis' Bryn Mawr neighborhood, passing through doors and confronting his victims as he shot person after person, according to police. His rampage was over so quickly that most victims didn't realize what was happening until he was standing before them, the report says.

He has no history with the Minneapolis police, authorities said, aside from three property crimes cases in which he was the victim. But his family said he had struggled with paranoia and delusions, and within the past two years had withdrawn from them.

About a year ago, he legally acquired two Glock 9mm handguns. Engeldinger practiced shooting at the Burnsville Rifle and Pistol Range, according to information released Monday. The range has been closed since July 31 due to a fire, according to a recording on the business's phone. It may partly reopen this month.

Engeldinger, 36, had received a letter of reprimand a week before the shootings. He was told at the time that his performance must improve immediately or he would be terminated.

'Poor performance and lateness'

Near the end of the workday, Engeldinger was asked to meet in Souter's office. Engeldinger first left the building and went to his car, then returned to meet with Souter and Cooks. Engeldinger was fired at the meeting for "poor performance and lateness," according to the police report, and given his final paycheck.

Engeldinger carried the gun and two loaded magazines -- each of them carrying 15 bullets -- into his termination meeting, according to police.

He pulled out the handgun and a struggle "ensued between the men over the gun" before Souter and Cooks were wounded. Cooks, who was 62, did not survive.

Engeldinger dropped a partially loaded magazine during the struggle. He reloaded and stepped out of Souter's office, encountering company owner Reuven Rahamim, 61, who had come out of his office to see what was going on.

Engeldinger shot him, then walked east through the building, leaving the executive offices through a set of double doors and into the sales staff area. He shot and killed employee Jacob Beneke, 34, then continued east through another set of double doors to the loading dock area.

There he shot and killed employee Ron Edberg, 58, before turning to shoot and kill UPS driver Keith Basinski, 50, who was in his truck at the loading dock area.

Engeldinger continued east through a set of large sliding doors to the company's production area, where he shot and critically injured employee Eric Rivers. Another employee, identified only as "B.W.," was grazed by a bullet.

Engeldinger then went to the company's basement and shot himself in the head.

A search of his home by Hennepin County sheriff's deputies after the shootings turned up application materials for a gun permit and certification of completion of concealed-carry training, according to police. Police said laws prohibited them from saying whether Engeldinger had a gun permit.

An ankle holster, empty boxes that could have carried 10,000 rounds, gun cleaning supplies, targets and spare Glock magazines were also found at the home.

The funeral for Rahamim, of St. Louis Park, was Sunday. Another funeral was held Sunday for Cooks, of Minnetonka.

A funeral for Edberg, of Brooklyn Center, will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Methven-Taylor Funeral Home, Anoka. Services for Beneke, of Maple Grove, will be at noon Wednesday at Evans-Nordby Funeral Home, Brooklyn Center. A funeral for Basinski, of Spring Lake Park, will be at 1 p.m. Thursday at Emmanuel Christian Center, Spring Lake Park.

According to Hennepin County Medical Center, Accent Signage System's production manager, Rivers, remained in critical condition Monday, while director of operations Souter was in serious condition. The eighth victim, B.W., was seen by doctors at HCMC Thursday and released.

Star Tribune staff writer Paul Walsh contributed to this report. Matt McKinney • 612-673-7329

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