It's hard to imagine the moment when an employee of Accent Signage Systems walked in and opened fire, but the Minneapolis Police Department released photos on Wednesday that show the gruesome scene.
It's one of the state's worst mass shootings, and the images are an important part of putting together what happened inside the office and finding what lessons can be learned.
The photographs captured the scene of a nightmare. Police blacked out the bodies and the blood, but the sight of the aftermath alone is frightening enough.
The pictures begin in the parking lot, where Andrew Engeldinger went to the trunk of his car to grab his gun before heading to the executive office where he knew he would be fired.
Inside, his supervisors -- John Souter and Rami Cooks -- fought back. Though there was a struggle for the gun, Cooks was killed. Souter was shot and critically wounded.
When owner Reuven Rahamim stepped out of his office, he was shot in the hallway while workers ran for their lives or hid. More bullets and death marked the path to the sales office and out to the loading docks, where Engeldinger killed two more people, including a UPS driver.
Minneapolis police were at the scene in five and a half minutes. Meanwhile, Engeldinger headed to the basement and shot himself. His 9mm Glock handgun was found at his side.
At Engeldinger's home, police discovered the depths of his delusions and paranoia in the empty boxes of ammunition marking some 10,000 rounds. They also found the letter of reprimand he received a week earlier from his employers over poor performance and lateness.
There are lessons to be learned from every mass shooting. An analysis of 84 mass shootings conducted by researchers at Texas State University found it took police an average of three minutes to respond. The researchers also found that how victims responded before police arrived could be the difference between life and death.
In 16 of the attacks, civilians who fought back against the shooter were able to subdue him in 13 cases, and able to shoot him in three cases. Civilians were also able to obstruct or delay the gunman.
Specifically, researchers studied the Virginia Tech massacre, in which Seung-Hui Cho killed 3 students. In classrooms where students and a teacher tried to keep him from entering many of the students survived. In other classrooms where students and teachers tried to hide or play dead, nearly everyone was shot and many were killed.
A public service video produced by the Houston Police Department called "Run, Hide and Fight" recommends workers first try to flee from an active shooter. If that's not possible, they're advised to turn off their cell phones and hide. In the event that there are no options left, police recommend being prepared to fight back in any way.
The "Run, Hide, Fight" approach represents a "sea change," said Chuck Wexler of the Police Executive Research Forum. Wexler told the New York Times the change is similar to how police procedures evolved after the shooting at Columbine High School, with police departments recognizing they need to engage with an active shooter immediately, and not first try to secure a perimeter.
"There's a recognition in these ‘active shooter' situations that there may be a need for citizens to act in a way that perhaps they haven't been trai9ned for or equipped to deal with," Wexler told the New York Times.
History will show that the workers at Accent Signage did everything they could. They ran, they hid and they fought back -- but for the six victims who died as a result of the shooting, it wasn't enough.
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