Todd Goolkasian was out of town on Tuesday when one of his employees at Cornerstone Structural Engineering called to tell him someone had walked into the north Fresno firm and threatened two workers.
What then unfolded was an evacuation by employees, a fire in Goolkasian’s wife’s office and a protracted standoff with Fresno police before Michael Rankin, on probation for auto theft, was arrested. Police found him with methamphetamine; a syringe was later found in a trashcan in the building.
On Thursday, Goolkasian recounted what happened that night and assessed the damage left behind.
Rankin was able to enter Cornerstone Structural Engineering on West Allviual and Palm avenues around 6 p.m. The doors didn’t normally lock until 7 p.m. He confronted two employees who were working late, telling them, “Guess anyone can break into your building.”
The employees left him alone, thinking he would leave, and thought they heard the door close.
He didn’t leave. Minutes later, the workers – both engineers – heard another sound farther down the hall, where offices for Goolkasian and his wife, Maureen, are located.
They found Rankin in Goolkasian’s office, and after a brief confrontation, asked him to leave. That’s when Rankin walked around the desk toward them with a small knife. The employees got out, called police and alerted Goolkasian.
Rankin was eventually arrested, but not before making a mess of both offices.
Goolkasian’s office had papers strewn about, but his wife’s office was worse. Rankin lit a fire there before police were able to force open the door, Goolkasian said.
Maureen Goolkasian is the chief financial officer as well as an engineer with the firm. She was upset about the damage to her office, where her desk and some personal items including photos were damaged. The firm also has several broken windows thanks allegedly to Rankin.
Goolkasian said he is pleased with how his staff handled the situation. The doors are already reprogrammed to close earlier, and the human resources department has offered counseling for employees who may need it. The firm is taking other steps to make the office more secure. One of the employees working on June 7 was taking a half-day off, Goolkasian said. The other was back to work, but unavailable for comment.