The Daily Grind Video
CLOSE

VIA NYTIMES

Nine people are dead after an employee summoned for a disciplinary hearing opened fire at a beer distributor in Manchester, Conn., on Tuesday morning, the police said. One of the dead was the suspected gunman.

The company, Hartford Distributors, is among the largest in the state and was at its busiest at 7:30 a.m., with about 100 drivers, sales people and executives in the building during a shift change, when the gunman — identified as Omar Thornton, 34, a truck driver — started shooting.

“He came in to meet with the company and after that, all hell broke loose,” the union representative, John Hollis, said of Mr. Thornton, 34. “He pulled the gun and ran through the warehouse.”

The shots hit drivers, union representatives and company executives, according to relatives and friends of the victims.

“There are eight deceased and the suspect as well,” said Sgt. Sandy Ficara of the Manchester Police Department . “That is the final count.”

[pagebreak]

One victim who died was Victor James, 60, who had worked for 30 years hauling Budweiser beer and was looking forward to retirement, said his mother, Gloria Wilson. “He was very much loved,” Ms. Wilson, 86, said from the Windsor, Conn., home she shared with her son.

Lt. J. Paul Vance of the Connecticut State Police, which is conducting the investigation with the Manchester Police, said the suspect “probably” turned the gun on himself.

Sergeant Ficara said, “It’s been a crazy scene out there.”

Mr. Hollis, a legislative affairs representative for the Connecticut Teamsters, said Mr. Thornton had been called in for a disciplinary hearing that could have resulted in his being terminated. Mr. Hollis called the suspect “a bottom guy” because he was the last man hired, and said he brought a union representative from Local 1035 for the hearing.

Mr. Hollis would not disclose the action that brought Mr. Thornton to a disciplinary hearing.

[pagebreak]

Joanne Hannah, who said her daughter Kristi had been dating the suspect for the past eight years, said that Mr. Thornton, who is black, had been having problems with co-workers. “Things were being put on the bathroom walls,” including “a hangman noose,” Ms. Hannah said.

She added that Kristi and Mr. Thornton spent Monday night at her daughter’s house and that Ms. Hannah’s son, who also spent the night there, woke them both up to go to work.

Ms. Hannah had to cut the conversation short because she said her home was filled with detectives.

Public records show that Mr. Thornton graduated from East Hartford High School in 1996. He ran into financial trouble several years later and filed for bankruptcy in Connecticut in 2000. At the time, Mr. Thompson owed money to a dozen creditors, including American Express, Sprint and Sallie Mae. On his Facebook page, Mr. Thompson counted among his likes and interests Hoffman’s Gun Center & Indoor Range in Newington, Conn. Mr. Hollis said Mr. Thornton had been the last in the company to be hired within the previous three years.