Accent Signage shooting: 1 year later, debate shifts from guns to mental health


It was one year ago today that troubled employee Andrew Engeldinger killed six people and himself in a shooting spree at Accent Signage in Minneapolis.

On the anniversary, MPR examines how debate has largely shifted in the wake of what was the deadliest workplace shooting in the city's history, from increasing gun control to creating a better mental health care system.

State lawmakers in their session earlier this year gave both topics a fair amount of attention, MPR notes. Efforts to pass new gun restrictions mostly failed, but significant new mental health measures were approved, notably, legislation aimed at improving children's mental health, MPR reports. Symptoms of some mental illnesses often surface in school children, MPR notes.

Engeldinger had been diagnosed with depression and showed signs of schizophrenia, and family members had first noticed changes in him during his high school years, his family had said.

Engeldinger a year ago had brought a Glock 9 mm pistol to a meeting with his managers at Accent, who fired him after a number of warnings about shortcomings in his work and chronic tardiness. He then went on a shooting rampage, killing company founder Reuven Rahamin and co-workers Rami Cooks, Jacob Beneke and Ron Edberg, as well as UPS driver Keith Basinski, before shooting himself. A co-worker Engeldinger wounded during the shooting spree, Eric Rivers, died days later.

A month after the shooting, Accent company owners and its workers vowed to carry on and move the business forward, despite the tragedy.

The company completely renovated the building itself, ripping out the walls down to the studs and tearing out flooring, the Star Tribune reported earlier this year. “Get rid of some of those memories, if you will,” Rod Grandner, who had been running Accent since last fall, told the newspaper.

Sami Rahamim, the son of the company's founder, has become a vocal advocate for gun control.

Workers at the Accent facility, and residents in the Bryn Mawr neighborhood, are still healing emotionally, KARE 11 reports.

Former Accent employee John Souter, who was severely injured in the shooting, told KARE 11 he was grateful for the people who have helped him in the last year.

"There has not been a single day or night since this whole sordid affair happened, when this has not been replayed in mind, over and over again. My heart goes out to the family and friends of those who perished in this senseless act of gun violence," he told KARE.

WCCO reports that the company, which resumed operations about a month after the shooting, released a statement: “Many of our friends and co-workers tragically lost their lives. The loss has had an unimaginable impact on many families and has taken a tremendous toll on our company. Our employees have shown incredible resolve this past year, which has allowed Accent to persevere under incredibly challenging circumstances."

The company on its Facebook page has posted images of the six slain in the shooting with the words "Never forgotten."

On its website, the company notes, "This Friday marks the one-year anniversary of the horrific events that forever changed our lives. Out of respect for our co-workers and the families of those who lost loved ones, we will be observing the solemn day privately. We would ask that you keep our fallen colleagues, their families, and our staff in your thoughts and prayers at this difficult time."

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Officials at Accent Signage in Minneapolis vowed Monday that the company will continue operations despite the Sept. 27 shooting that left seven dead and two wounded. "Their loss has taken a tremendous toll on our company and had an unimaginable impact on our families," said Shereen Rahamim, wife of the slain owner.