Friday, September 28, 2012
Jewish inventor, owner of innovative sign company, dies in shooting incident at his Minnesota business
By Michael Ireland
Special Correspondent, ASSIST News Service
MINNEAPOLIS, MN (ANS) -- The Jewish owner of a family sign-making business was among those killed Thursday in a western suburb of Minneapolis, MN, when a recently-fired employee returned to the business, shooting and killing four others, then himself.
According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune newspaper, the suspected shooter, named by police as Andrew J. Engeldinger, was said by Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan to have been terminated at the business in the Bryn Mawr neighborhood of Minneapolis Thursday afternoon.
"It was a case he was terminated that day, he did come back about 4:25 to that location, parked his car and walked in the loading dock area and immediately started shooting people at that location," Dolan said about Engeldinger, 36, of Minneapolis.
The newspaper said Rahamim was supposed to meet with other leaders of the Beth El Synagogue at 7 p.m. Thursday. Larry Pepper, a longtime friend and fellow member of Beth El, was still in shock Friday after learning about Rahamim's death.
"He was a role model as well as a good compassionate person," he said. "This was so out of left field. He was a very good employer."
Pepper told the newspaper that Rahamim was a compassionate, charitable business leader and family man who took pride in hiring friends and employees from diverse backgrounds.
According to the newspaper, business associate Michael Allshouse, who works for another sign company, has known Rahamim for 18 years and worked with him on several projects.
Rahamim not only was a successful businessman but an inventor, Allshouse said. One of his patents is for a system that puts Braille onto the signs and placards at hotels. "He built a very successful sign company," Allshouse said.
At the Rahamim home in St. Louis Park, cars filled the street and family and friends gathered to mourn. A family representative said they did not want to speak with the media on Friday morning.
Steve Hunegs, executive Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas, said Friday that the Jewish community is shocked by the "senseless act of violence."
Accent is a small company with employees who all knew one another. "They were very tight," Allshouse said. And Rahamim knew them all.
The newspaper went on to say that Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak said he and U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison (MN) recently visited Accent Signage because it was held up as a national model for exporting practices. Rybak said he'd been assured that the surviving employees were "together and being cared for."
"We are deeply sorry about what has happened here," he said, adding that it was "a horrible tragedy."
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton condemned "this senseless violence," adding, "There is no place for it anywhere in Minnesota. I extend my deepest condolences to the families and friends of the innocent people killed or wounded."
The Star Tribune reported that Dolan said the building, which housed Accent Signage Systems, was so large and full of materials that it took a long time for tactical officers to sweep the building. They found two people who had been hiding for a long time.
The Star Tribune said the chief reported that a search of Engeldinger's home turned up packaging for 10,000 rounds of ammunition and another gun. Engeldinger got guns a year ago and had been practicing using them, the chief said.
According to te Star Tribune, very little is known about Engeldinger, but his uncle, Joseph Engeldinger, said he had been estranged from his family, including his parents and two siblings, for about two years.
Engeldinger told the newspaper that his nephew was always quiet, but never had anger issues or was aggressive. He called him "just a good average kid" who grew up in Richfield, MN.
Andrew Engeldinger, known as "Andy" bought his south Minneapolis house more than a decade ago, and worked with his father and uncle to refurbish it, the newspaper said.
Barry Lawrence, a former employee at Accent Signage who stayed in touch with the company's officers, said he trained Engeldinger to be an engraver when Engeldinger first went to work for the company in 1998 or 1999, according to the newspaper report.
"I knew the kid real well," said Lawrence, who now operates his own business, Barry Lawrence Graphics. "He was real intelligent, caught on fast....He seemed conscientious. He was conscious about saving money. He was always worried about his 401K plan. When the stock market went down, he was concerned about losing money. I said, 'Just forget about it, Andy, don't even look at if it upsets you.’"
"I remember when he was hired, he was a quiet guy. I wouldn't have thought he would have done anything like this," Lawrence told the newspaper.
Minneapolis Deputy Police Chief Kris Arneson told reporters Thursday night that officers did not exchange shots with the shooter, whose body was found in a warehouse on the property. Early Friday, police confirmed that four people and the gunman were dead.
Engeldinger has been described as having just lost his job at Accent, the newspaper said.
According to the newspaper report, police swarmed to the chaotic scene, which unfolded just after 4:30 p.m. Thursday inside Accent. Reuven Rahamim founded the business.
The newspaper reported that about an hour into the incident, scanner reports came that the shooter was dead of a self-inflicted gunshot in the building's basement. Although his name was not released or confirmed by police or the company, sources identified him as Engeldinger.
The newspaper stated that nationwide, 458 people died last year in work-related homicides, according to preliminary information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 2009, that number was 521.
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