Police: Alleged shooter had gun at workplace at time of dismissal

Police escort
A woman identified as an employee of Accent Signage Systems is escorted on Friday, Sept. 28, 2012, by a Minneapolis police officer to retrieve her car from the business where a gunman on Thursday shot and killed several people before turning the gun on himself, in the Bryn Mawr neighborhood of Minneapolis. Reuven Rahamim, 61, the owner of Accent Signage Systems, was among those killed.
AP Photo/Craig Lassig

The Minneapolis police have clarified the order of events leading up to Thursday's shooting in which six people, including the alleged gunman, were killed.

The police had initially reported that witnesses said Andrew Engeldinger had been fired Thursday morning and returned to Accent Signage Systems with a gun in the afternoon.

Now, Sgt. Steve McCarty says the police have learned that Engeldinger got a letter of reprimand in the mail and went into the office Thursday afternoon.

"The key point here is that he did not get fired in the morning, go someplace away from the facility and then come back," McCarty said. "He was there the whole time, it sounds like, and whether he had that gun on him at the time he got fired or whether he had it in a locker someplace stashed in there, I guess that's still what's in doubt."

McCarty says there were about 20 people in the building when the shooting started.

The police had previously said that witnesses offered differing accounts of what happened on Thursday. Police Chief Tim Dolan had said Engeldinger, 36, was either terminated from his job Thursday morning and returned in the afternoon with a gun, or he was called in to be fired in the afternoon and while he was there, began to shoot.

But what Dolan knows for sure is that it was a gruesome scene.

"The obvious signs of conflict in there — it was a hellish time," Dolan said.

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He says Engeldinger carried a Glock 9-mm semiautomatic pistol that he had owned for a year. Dolan says Engeldinger walked past some people, leaving them unharmed, and targeted others. At least one victim fought back, Dolan said.

Several people inside the building called 911. By the time three officers arrived, the shooting had stopped, Dolan said. He said the responding officers immediately saw people who had been shot and began searching the vast building.

"This scene is by far the most traumatic scene that any of these officers would've ever encountered," Dolan said.

Dolan said emergency responders from Hennepin County were inside the building tending to the wounded before police had declared the scene safe. Teams found two employees hiding. In the basement, they discovered Engledinger dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. A single bullet casing was found by Engledinger's side, Dolan said.

After the initial incident, Dolan said police talked to Engeldinger's family and searched his home.

"We found another gun there, and we found packaging for 10,000 rounds of ammunition," Dolan said. "He obviously had this gun for a while, and he's obviously been practicing on how to use that gun."

People in the south Minneapolis neighborhood where Engeldinger lived said he was a pleasant man who would wave to them but mostly kept to himself. Engeldinger's family issued a statement that said he had a history of mental illness. They wrote, "This is not an excuse for his actions, but sadly, may be a partial explanation."

Shooting aftermath
Minneapolis Police Inspector Mike Martin, center, hugs Minneapolis city council member Barb Johnson, right, as local resident Shirley Drugge looks on after news conference on Friday, Sept. 28, 2012, at a church near the scene of a mass shooting at Accent Signage Systems, in which a gunman shot several people and then turned the gun on himself the day before.
AP Photo/Craig Lassig

His uncle, Joe Engeldinger, said Andrew grew up in Richfield, Minn., and that as far as he knows, Engeldinger steered clear of trouble but was estranged from his family.

"It's an absolute horrible thing. People can point fingers and make up whatever kind of scenario they want to make up. But I truly believe that it's because people aren't getting the help they really need," Engeldinger said. "And he probably needed some help that he wasn't getting, and something just snapped."

Before he died, Engeldinger allegedly fatally shot five people. All but one died inside Accent Signage.

The company's owner, Reuven Rahamim, was shot several times in the head. Also killed were Jacob Beneke, 34, and Ronald Edberg, 58. Rami Cooks, 62, initially survived a gunshot wound to the head and was transported to Hennepin County Medical Center. He died at HCMC at 11:18 p.m. Thursday.

Two other victims remain hospitalized at Hennepin County Medical Center, one in critical condition and the other in serious condition.

"It's beyond belief to us to lose Reuven," said Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak. He knew Rahamim and said the 61-year old was born in Israel and built a successful company in America. Rybak said Rahamim was honored at the White House last year.

"The White House called, remembering that, and offered their condolences to everyone at Accent and everyone in this community," Rybak said.

Also among the dead was UPS driver Keith Basinski, 50, who had worked in the neighborhood for 20 years, Dolan said.

"And he was in the loading dock, loading up at the time," Dolan said. "And so he just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time."

Longtime neighborhood resident Tami Galvin said she saw Basinski earlier this week.

"I would say a good 80 percent, if not 90 percent, of everyone at least saw him or knew him one-on-one," Galvin said. "You'd see him through the neighborhood and you always heard the squeak of the UPS truck, and you knew he was around."

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