By Calvin Palmer
A worker who complained about being racially harassed at a family-owned beer and wine wholesaler shot eight of his colleagues this morning before turning the gun on himself.
Omar S. Thornton, 34, was a driver for Hartford Distributors, of Manchester, Connecticut. He shot 10 people with a .223 semi-automatic rifle, killing eight, and then shot himself as police officers approached.
Manchester police said in a statement: “There were nine individuals, including the suspect, who were killed during the shooting. We are presently in the process of trying to identify the victims and make notifications to family members.”
Manchester police Sgt Sandy Ficara confirmed that Omar Thornton was the shooter. Police believe his fatal gunshot wound was self-inflicted, he said.
“It’s one of those workplace scenes that happens all over the country,” he said.
The mother of Thornton’s girlfriend, Kristi Hannah, said that Thornton had complained about being racially harassed but his supervisors did nothing about it.
John Hollis, a Teamsters official, said the union was bringing Thornton in to meet with the company to remedy a problem.
“He started shooting,” said Hollis who declined to describe the nature of the disciplinary problem.
Hollis was not certain if the meeting had taken place when the shooting started around 7:30. At that time, about 35 or 40 people were in the office and warehouse. The shifts were just changing.
Steve Hollander, a member of the family that founded and owns the company, was identified as the tenth victim. He was shot in the neck and wounded.
“Everyone is devastated by this tragic and senseless act,” said Jim Bataglio, a spokesman for the Hollander family.
Steven Hollander is fair condition, he said.
So far two victims of the gun rampage have been identified — Bryan Cirigliano, 51, of Newington, who is the president of the Teamsters Local 1035, which represents drivers at Hartford Distributors; and Victor James, 60, who was planning to retire this year after working for the company for 30 years.