MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — 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 Thursday attack at Accent Signage Systems, which Police Chief Tim Dolan said lasted no more than 15 minutes. Dolan also said Engeldinger may have chosen to spare some former co-workers.
"It's clear he did walk by some people, very clear," Dolan said.
Engeldinger's family said in a statement issued through the National Alliance on Mental Illness later Friday that he had struggled with mental illness for years. They offered sympathy to the victims.
"This is not an excuse for his actions, but sadly, may be a partial explanation," the statement said.
No details were released about why Engeldinger was fired, but police said he had ongoing problems at work. Investigators who searched his home Thursday night found a second 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, employee Jacob Beneke, 34; and Keith Basinski, 50, a UPS driver who had made deliveries and pickups at the business for years.
Relatives described Rahamim, who immigrated from Israel and spent three decades building his business after starting it in his basement, as a passionate cook and devoted to his family. Beneke was an avid sculpture artist and painter who worked as a digital imaging manager, and Basinski was a Wisconsin native dedicated to the Green Bay Packers who Dolan said "just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time."
The other two men killed were identified as Rami Cooks, 62, of Minnetonka, and Ronald Edberg, 58, of Brooklyn Center. Two other people remained at the hospital, one in serious condition and one critical condition. Four of the five men killed suffered multiple gunshot wounds.
Police received multiple 911 calls from inside the business during the attack, which Dolan described as "a hellish time." When officers arrived, they heard no shots but found some evidence people had tried to fight back, Dolan said. He declined to elaborate.
Police initially said Engeldinger was fired in the morning, then returned in the afternoon. But police revised their account later Friday, saying they were piecing together chaotic events from multiple witnesses and that no one saw the shooting from start to finish.
Capt. Amelia Huffman said it appears Engeldinger got a letter of reprimand in the mail, came into the office Thursday afternoon and was then terminated.
"This had been an ongoing employee situation, which culminated in termination in the afternoon," Huffman said. "From the best we can tell, the incident started right after Mr. Engeldinger had been fired."
She said there was a struggle in the office and shots were fired, and employees elsewhere in the building heard gunshots. "And Mr. Engeldinger left the back office area and fired additional shots throughout the building," she said.