Last Thursday, a business called Accent Signage Systems of Minneapolis fired one of their employees, a man named Andrew Engeldinger. So Andrew returned with a handgun to shoot and kill coworkers in what is now called Minnesota’s deadliest workplace shooting. Why?
We cannot sat exactly what Andrew Engeldinger’s motive was, because he committed suicide after opening fire, killing three people, severely wounding several more, and forever scarring coworkers, friends, and families. But by studying other workplace shootings in the United States, we can probably guess why Engeldinger committed his crime.
People never “snap.” They “boil.” Akin to a kettle on a hot stove, they become hotter, until something must occur to ‘blow off steam.’ Some people write hateful messages on Facebook. Some will physically fight or verbally abuse. Others will go jogging, fishing, or some other sport to relieve their anxiety, anger, and fear (anger is really just mad hurt). Some drink alcohol or use drugs. And a few will pick up a weapon to use it. They aim that weapon at a paramour, ex-spouse, or the workplace. It is not about the person or the workplace, but what they represent.
The workplace represents more than a paycheck. We spend the majority of our lives, every week, at work. We are evaluated, observed, rewarded, and reprimanded. Our social life usually revolves around whom we work with and their families. It pays our bills, keeps us surviving. And in this economy, it is a lifeline: mortgage, vehicle, food – our every basic need relies on employment.
Witnesses said Engeldinger appeared to target specific people. It has been noted his family was concerned for his mental health. Reportedly, Andrew Engeldinger had received a letter of reprimand via the mail, went to work that afternoon, and was terminated for his recent behavior, which had changed from harmonious to argumentative. He had several guns and much ammunition in his home. Coworkers said they were not shocked it was Andrew Engeldinger. If all is accurate, Engeldinger fits the profile of a workplace shooter: strong interest in weapons/owns many weapons, rigid thinking, angered at management for erroneous reasons, discussed violence as an alternative, mental illness, overzealous bond to workplace (“work is my only hope/life”), blames others for personal, personality, or other problems. Obviously Andrew Engeldinger felt he had lost it all and had nothing to lose, a warning sign of a workplace shooter upon termination.
As a company, a community, a town grieves and attempt to make sense of what appears to be a senseless crime, note it made every sense to the perpetrator. Unfortunately for the families and friends of those lost, no one saw Andrew Engeldinger coming until it was too late. And when he came to work that day, he had a gun in his hand.
Judith Yates teaches “Workplace Violence Prevention & Education.” For more information CLICK HERE.
Credit picture of J Yates