Police: Gunman lost job over poor performancePublished 9:47am Tuesday, October 2, 2012
MINNEAPOLIS — The gunman who killed five people at a Minneapolis sign company last week was fired for poor performance and lateness just moments before he started shooting, and two top managers who tried to stop him were shot during the struggle, police said Monday.
Investigators released a timeline of the rampage at Accent Signage Systems along with background about gunman Andrew Engeldinger, including that he’d never threatened anyone at the company and his only contact with local police had been as the victim of property crime.
The timeline shows that Engeldinger worked his normal shift last Thursday, then was summoned to the office of operations director John Souter. Engeldinger, who had been reprimanded in writing a week before, went to his car first.
Engeldinger, whose family has said suffered from mental illness, was fired during the meeting and handed his last paycheck — then he pulled out a gun.
Souter and Rami Cooks, another top manager at the meeting, struggled with him for the weapon and were both shot; Cooks later died, and Souter remains in serious condition at a local hospital.
Although Engeldinger dropped a partially loaded magazine during the struggle, he was able to reload, according to police.
The 36-year-old Minneapolis man then shot company owner Reuven Rahamim, who had just stepped out of his office next door, and walked toward the other end of the building. He shot employee Jacob Beneke in the sign display area, while employee Ron Edberg and UPS driver Keith Basinski were both shot in the loading dock. All four men died at the scene.
Engeldinger then walked into the production area where he shot production manager Eric Rivers, who remained in critical condition Monday, and grazed another employee whose name has not been released.
Police believe Engeldinger then went to the basement and fatally shot himself. Officers found his body near a Glock 9 mm semi-automatic pistol.
The rampage was Minnesota’s deadliest workplace shooting.
Police said managers had talked to Engeldinger about his performance and tardiness problems before, and reprimanded him in writing the week before the shootings.
“He was told at that time that his performance must improve immediately or he would be terminated,” police said in a statement.
Investigators found no information showing he had threated anyone at the company before, the statement said. His only prior contact with Minneapolis police was as the victim of three property crimes from 2005 to 2011: damage to a motor vehicle, auto theft and theft from an auto.
Police said Engeldinger, who acquired two guns legally about a year ago, practiced shooting at the Burnsville Rifle and Pistol Range. The company’s website said the range wasn’t open because of a July fire. Reached at home, owner Susan Laven said the company had no comment.
The shooting range’s website says it offers a “Basic Pistol” course for people with little or no experience with handguns. The range also offers a concealed-carry class that the state requires for anyone who wants to get such a permit.
The police statement said a search of Engeldinger’s home turned up another loaded Glock 9 mm, spare Glock magazines, several boxes of ammunition, an ankle holster, carry permit application materials and certification that he had completed concealed-carry training. Police also found shipping boxes that could have held around 10,000 rounds of ammunition.
Police said they expect to wrap up their investigation this week.