Omar Thornton shot and killed eight people, before committing suicide at his workplace in Manchester, Conn., Tuesday morning after reportedly facing disciplinary action for stealing beer. Chris Roos, a representative for Teamsters Local 1035 said in a statement that the 34-year-old truck driver at Hartford Distributors met with company and union officials on the morning of the shooting to discuss his continued employment at the facility.
“It is our understanding that it was at this time Thornton allegedly shot and killed Bryan Cirigliano , a company representative and six of our members at the facility,” said Roos.
Union officials deny reports that Thornton believed he was subjected to racial discrimination.
“We take the representations of our members very seriously,” Roos said. “During the time that Thornton was represented by Local 1035, he reported no concerns about racial discrimination to the union.”
Steve Hollander, vice president of the company, who was injured in the gunfire told The Associated Press that Thornton was cool and calm before the killing spree began.
“He didn’t yell. He was cold as ice,” said Hollander. “He didn’t protest when we were meeting with him to show him the video of him stealing. He didn’t contest it. He didn’t complain. He didn’t argue. He didn’t admit or deny anything. He just agreed to resign. And then he just unexplainably pulled out his gun and started blasting.”
Kristi Hannah, Thornton’s girlfriend of eight years told the NY Daily News that the people that were killed were all names that Thornton mentioned to her before. “He didn’t go around randomly shooting people,” she said. “He knew these were the people who harassed him.” Hannah denied that Thornton stole from his employer.
Family members told a local newspaper that Thornton complained to them about racial harassment at work for years, but said reports to a supervisor proved futile. They described him as “laid-back,” “soft-spoken” and a hard worker and said that Thornton had never been in trouble with the law.
“He was a really good person,” Mayshell Kinder told the Hartford Courant. “I would rather die first and have left my mother without me than him.”
Gov. M. Jodi Rell said in a statement that “we will likely never fully understand why it happened. But an inexplicable – and indescribable – catastrophe such as this is a cruelly clear reminder that we must take time in our daily lives to appreciate what we have.”