When a fired worker went on a shooting spree last Thursday in Minneapolis, gunning down five people, then killing himself; the massacre left the surviving employees of Accent Signage Systems reeling.
How those survivors are coming to grips with fired co-worker Andrew Engeldinger killing Accent Signage owner Reuven Rahamim, a UPS driver and three other people is going to depend on the unique circumstances of each individual, said Donna Anderson, a licensed independent, clinical social worker whose practice is in Roseville.
"Everyone's experience is different," said Anderson, who has been in practice for more than 30 years. She noted that whether a co-worker actually witnessed Engeldinger shooting people or were only in backroom to hear the gunshots will impact the grief they feel and affect their reactions to the horrific tragedy. (Click on to this Patch story to read how the shootings unfolded, according to Minneapolis Police.)
Anderson said she has never had to deal with clients affected by workplace violence. But she has seen her share of clients scarred by domestic abuse and other violence. "I have worked with people who have had horrific trauma," Anderson said.
In the Accent Signage case, Anderson said she expects the surviving employees will get or have gotten a crisis debriefing. She also expects some employees may get short-term counseling.
How quickly surviving Accent Signage employees deal with the tragedy and move on with their lives will depend on their own backgrounds, personal experiences and support systems, Anderson said. "You need to figure out where the person is and tailor the therapy to the individual," she said.
Anderson added a counselor would, for example, look to see whether a surviving employee is having trouble sleeping or show other signs of emotional distress.
More immediately, Accent Signage survivors are experiencing shock, denial, disbelief and grief, Anderson speculated. Longer-term, survivors will be looking to re-establish some sort of equilibrium in their lives again, she said.
"It's nort that you get over (the shootings) but you integrate that and make that a part of your life and not stop living the rest of your life," Anderson said.
Meanwhile, a more practical question is whether the company will be able to continue in business without its founder and owner, Anderson said. "Can the company survive?
"And even if the business stays open, how do you (the survivors) come to work?" For some people, they may decide they can't go back to work at Accent Signage and will quit, she said. "This will depend on each individual, then the work community itself."