Gunman among six dead in Bryn Mawr shooting

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September 24, 2012 // UPDATED 5:48 pm - December 27, 2012
By: Dylan Thomas & Sarah McKenzie
Dylan Thomas & Sarah McKenzie

 

Six people are dead following a workplace shooting Thursday at Accent Signage in Bryn Mawr, including the owner of the business, 61-year-old Reuven Rahamim, and the man police say was the shooter.

The fifth victim, and sixth fatality in the incident, died at Hennepin County Medical Center Friday afternoon, Sgt. Stephen McCarty said.

Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan confirmed Friday afternoon the suspect identified by name in news reports, Andrew Engeldinger, 36, was the shooter. Engeldinger was employed by Accent Signage, but was terminated Thursday morning, Dolan said.

He was found dead inside the building from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

The Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s office late Friday released the names of the four others killed by Engledinger: Rami Cooks, 62, of Minnetonka; Ronald Edberg, 58, of Brooklyn Center; Keith Basinski, 50, of Spring Lake Park; and Jacob Bruce Beneke, 34, of Maple Grove.

Dolan said Engeldinger, who was armed with a Glock 9 mm semi-automatic pistol, parked his car, entered the building through the loading dock “and immediately started shooting people.”

Later, police apparently revised that narrative. The Star Tribune reported Friday afternoon that the shooting began during the meeting in which Engeldinger was fired near the end of the workday Thursday, a scenario another source independently confirmed to the Southwest Journal.

Asked if Engeldinger picked his targets, Dolan responded: “It’s clear he did walk by some people.”

Basinski, a longtime UPS driver, had parked his van in the loading dock. The van remained there Friday afternoon.

Dolan said the three Minneapolis Police officers who arrived on scene first “did what we’ve trained them to do in active-shooter scenarios,” formed a team and moved through the building. Those officers are now on administrative leave — not because they fired their weapons, the chief clarified, but because of the disturbing nature of the crime scene.

Dolan praised the efforts of the officers who helped Accent Signage employees evacuate the building, and the actions of the paramedics who arrived on scene to treat victims before it was clear the shooting was over. He called the paramedics’ actions “courageous.”

Minneapolis Deputy Police Chief Kris Arneson said at a Thursday night news conference that three victims were taken by ambulance to Hennepin County Medical Center following the shooting, which began around 4:30 p.m. inside the business at 2322 Chestnut Ave. W.

Survivors and loved ones impacted by the shooting have been brought to the Minneapolis Police Department’s 4th Precinct in North Minneapolis. Margaret McAbee of St. Paul-based Survivors Resources said her organization is in the early stages of finding ways to help the victims. Her organization also helped survivors of the I-35W bridge collapse.

Bryn Mawr Neighborhood Association President Marlin Possehl said Rahamim moved to the neighborhood about 30 years ago and served for a time on the BMNA board, but had since relocated to St. Louis Park. The BMNA board held its monthly meetings in the Accent Signage building during the summer several years ago.

Police searched Engeldinger’s home in South Minneapolis, where they found another gun and packaging for about 10,000 rounds of ammunition. Police believe he purchased both weapons about one year ago.

“He obviously was practicing with how to use a gun,” Dolan said.

Arneson said there were “several witnesses” to the shooting, but could not say how many people were in the building at the time of the incident.

About 60 officers from multiple local jurisdictions and the FBI responded to multiple 911 calls from inside the building. They methodically searched the building, which Dolan described as large, old and full of “nooks and crannies.”

Dolan said there were “obvious signs of conflict,” describing the scene inside Accent Signage as “hellish.” He estimated the shooting lasted only 10 to 15 minutes.

Police did not engage Engeldinger. They found his body in the basement, next to a single bullet casing, Dolan said.

He said it would take time to complete the investigation of the crime scene because of the complicated layout of the building, which includes long hallways, many small offices and machinery.

“It’s vast,” he said.

Dolan said two people were found hiding in the building long after the shooting had ended.

Jeanine Webster, a neighbor of the office building, said she heard 10 to 12 shots while inside her home around 4:30 p.m. She went outside and saw a man running away from the office building, asking for people to call 911.

Mayor R.T. Rybak and City Council Member Lisa Goodman, a Bryn Mawr resident, were briefed by police before talking with reporters. Rybak said he was recently at Accent Signage with federal officials to recognize the company for being a business seeing growth in overseas exports.

“In a wonderful neighborhood and at a wonderful business, we’ve got a horrible tragedy,” Rybak said. He said Rahamim, who was born in Israel, was a good example of an immigrant success story. After the recent event at the business with federal commerce officials, Rybak said he returned home and recalled remarking to his wife: “This is a true family business.”

Rybak said Accent Signage employees were “together and being cared for” Thursday night. He extended his “deepest sympathies” to those connected with the business and the Bryn Mawr neighborhood.

Goodman said she knew the Rahamim and his wife through their interactions with the city. “We love having this business in the neighborhood,” she said, adding that the incident was “clearly out of character” for Bryn Mawr.

Possehl was among those who gathered Thursday evening with Rybak, Goodman and a number Bryn Mawr residents, including former Minnesota House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, on the lawn of Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church just blocks from the scene of the shooting.

He said the mood was “somber, sad, regretful.” “I don’t think it had turned to anger yet about the senseless violence that occurred,” he said.

Possehl did not know Rahamim well, but said he was “a really nice guy” who was proud of his business and proud of his affiliation with Bryn Mawr. “He seemed to be very gentle and caring, and had a great affection for the neighborhood,”  he said. “He was very competitive at the same time, and very innovative.” Possehl said Rahamim had patented a system of Braille signage that was in use in a building for which he is the caretaker.

Several hours before the candlelight vigil, a Metro Transit police bus was stationed outside a gas station a few blocks from the crime scene. Officers appeared to be interviewing witnesses inside the bus.

Bryn Mawr resident Steve Fischer, who lives about a block from Accent Signage, said his two-year-old twins were at home with their nanny, Megg O’Leary, at the time of the shooting. O’Leary’s own daughter was with them, and her husband, James Erickson, arrived just before the shooting to drive the girl home. Erickson said he was loading his daughter into their car when he heard “two separate volleys of shots.”

A hunter, Erickson said he knows what gunshots sound like, but he at first assumed he was hearing hammer blows. He said it was “eerily quiet” as he drove down Queen Avenue toward the business. He saw a man running away from the building, then saw a woman dressed in pink running across the Accent Signage parking lot. She tripped, fell, picked herself up and kept running, Erickson said.

“A whole bunch of things didn’t add up, so I called my wife,” he said. Told to lock the doors and hide in the basement, O’Leary spent the better part of an hour “barricaded” inside the home, she said. “It was scary for a while,” she said.

Fischer, the homeowner, said he had lived in Bryn Mawr for 12 years and always felt safe in the neighborhood.

City Council Member Elizabeth Glidden (8th Ward) worked closely with Rahamim through Think Green, a partnership between Minneapolis and St. Paul that focuses on promoting green business practices.

The Accent Signage founder was an active member of the steering committee. “This is a man who not only gave 110 percent to his own business, but he was willing to engage in the bigger picture — to engage in city committees, community and business associations that helped create the framework of a good environment, and infusing his values and ideas into those processes,” she said. ”He was a real giver of his time — not just someone who was there because he had a successful business, which he did.”

Finance & Commerce had an interesting feature on Accent Signage earlier this summer.

U.S. Sen. Al Franken released the following statement on the shootings: ”I’m shocked and saddened by this senseless act of violence. This is an enormous loss to the community. My thoughts are with the victims and the friends and family of everyone we lost yesterday, and I wish the wounded a speedy and full recovery.”

The Bryn Mawr Neighborhood Association has reported that a Wells Fargo account has been opened for Bryn Mawr shooting victims and family members at the bank’s 615 N. 7th St. branch.