Disgruntled employee kills eight people and himself in workplace shooting

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.

[Based on reports by The Hartford Courant and AFP.]

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1 Comment

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One response to “Disgruntled employee kills eight people and himself in workplace shooting

  1. Pamela

    A person appropriately files a Title VII complaint(s) with the company and he is labeled “disgruntled”?. Why is a person of color male/female is identified as “angry” when he/she has been harassed, belittled, and falsely accused? I, without a doubt believe Mr. Thorton was harassed. As a former Union Official, federal employee, and currently as a Mediator for the state, most persons being accused of harassment …deny it. As far as the gun is concerned…he drives a truck for the company and, for his safety, carried the weapon. 99.9% of truck drivers carry one. What’s the big deal. Apparently, those involved in the racial harassment of Mr. Thorton had no reason to call police or make any other arrangements for security….because they knew he was mild mannered, even tempered, and respectable. Yes, Mr. Thorton has to answer for his actions…but will the people accused step up to the plate and take responsible for their actions? A termination meeting at 7 am….unbelievable… how long were they planning this? Talk about ruthlessness, cowardly acts, and a blatant abuse of position and authority. A meeting of this substance, at that hour, was clearly a part of the ongoing harassment he received. How would they like to be called into a meeting, at 7 am, with your (supposedly) union representative already there? Sounds like a set-up… sold out by the union. Let’s remember….the union rep was an employee at the plant too…he’s got to worry about his own job.

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