For two hours, last Thursday morning, Israeli entrepreneur Reuven Rahamim spoke in overflowing excitement about the success of his company, Accent Signage Systems, to journalist, Todd Nelson, a freelance writer for the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Accent Signage Systems, according to its own website, is a leader in the interior signage industry, serving major sign manufacturers worldwide. Accent has been a major distributor for interior signage materials since 1998.
Rahamim talked about his success, his plans for the future and his philosophy. The reporter, Nelson, said he was “passionate about his company, the products, the innovation he brought to Braille signs.” Rahamim was “family oriented,” Nelson added, he talked about his grandchildren and his environmentally friendly products.
Four hours after, essentially, summing up his life in that interview, Rahamim was killed in a workplace shooting in his factory.
Andrew Engeldinger, 36, who had been fired from his job at ASS, took out a handgun and began shooting, fatally wounding the owner, Rahamim, and four others, before killing himself, according to police.
Police said the shooting lasted less than 15 minutes. It appears that Engeldinger may have chosen to spare the lives of a few former co-workers.
Besides the owner, Reuven Rahamim, 61, Engeldinger shot employee Jacob Beneke, 34, Keith Basinski, 50, a UPS driver, Rami Cooks, 62, of Minnetonka, and Ronald Edberg, 58, of Brooklyn Center. Two other people remained at the hospital, one in serious condition and one critical condition. Four of the five men killed suffered multiple gunshot wounds.
John Croman of NBC KARE 11 interviewed Rabbi Alexander Davis of the Beth-El Synagogue in the Minneapolis suburb of St. Louis Park, where Rahamim as a trustee and active member.
“Reuven’s last name is Rahamim, which, in Hebrew means ‘merciful’ or ‘compassionate’, and that is truly who he was,” said Rabbi Davis. “He was a person of great kindness and generosity, and mercy. And it’s something that he instilled into everyone with who he had contact. And that will live on here.”
Croman reported that Rabbi Davis spent most of the day with Rahamim’s widow Shereen and their children, who were “numb with pain and shock.”
“For Reuven his family was everything to him, his beloved wife, his three children and two grandchildren,” Davis told Croman.
Rahamim shared his humble beginnings with Star Tribune’s Nelson. He grew up on a farm in Israel “with no running water and a hole in the ground for a toilet.” He started working at a sign factory at age 14. After immigrating to the U.S., he attended Dunwoody College in Minnesota.
Nelson completed his interview and left about noon.
Rami Cooks, one of the victims, was named after his uncle who was murdered in the Holocaust. His nephew, Saar Cooks, wrote the following dedication on his Facebook page:
“My grandfather’s entire family was burnt at Treblinka Only his little brother, Yerachmiel/ Rami , managed to escape the fire. But at the very end of the war his German boss lost it and stuck a bullet in (Yerachmiel’s) head. My grandpa called his son, my uncle, after his little brother: Rami Cooks. Yesterday, in Minnesota, Rami’s employee, who was fired, lost it and stuck a bullet in (Rami’s) and several other people’s heads. Fate has a bad sense of humor sometimes.”
About the Author: Tibbi Singer is a veteran contributor to publications such as Israel Shelanu and the US supplement of Yedioth, and Jewish Business News.
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