Police: 9 killed in shooting at beer distributorship

MANCHESTER - (AP) - A warehouse driver who was caught onvideotape stealing beer from the distributorship where he workedwent on a shooting rampage there Tuesday, killing eight peoplebefore committing suicide, authorities said.

At least two people were wounded, one critically, Manchesterpolice said. They were expected to survive.

The gunman, identified by a company executive as Omar Thornton,had complained of racial harassment and said he found a picture ofa noose and a racial epithet written on a bathroom wall, the motherof his girlfriend said. Her daughter told her that Thornton'ssupervisors had not responded to his complaints, but a unionofficial said Thornton had not filed a complaint of racism to theunion or any government agency.

Thornton had been caught on videotape stealing beer fromHartford Distributors and was supposed to meet with companyofficials when the shootings began, Teamsters official ChristopherRoos said.

James Battaglio, a spokesman for the families who own thedistributorship, said he had no immediate information about theallegations of racial harassment.

Thornton's girlfriend had been with him the night before therampage and had no indication he was planning it, said her mother,Joanne Hannah.

On Tuesday morning, about 50 to 70 people were in the warehouseabout 10 miles east of Hartford during a shift change when thegunman opened fire around 7 a.m., said Brett Hollander, whosefamily owns the distributorship. Adding to the chaos was a fire atthe warehouse that was put out. Police did not know whether thefire was related to the shootings.

After shooting his co-workers, Thornton called his mother,Hannah said.

"He wanted to say goodbye and he loved everybody," saidHannah, whose daughter Kristi had dated Thornton for the past eightyears.

Hollander's cousin, who's a vice president at the company, wasshot in the arm and the face. Hollander said he thought his cousinwould be OK.

"There was a guy that was supposed to, was asked to resign, tocome in to resign and chose not to and shot my cousin and myco-workers," Hollander said.

Among the dead was Bryan Cirigliano, 51, of Newington, presidentof Teamsters 1035, according to the union secretary. The HartfordCourant identified another victim as Victor James, 59, of Windsor.

The rampage was the nation's deadliest since 13 people werefatally shot at Fort Hood, Texas, last November. A militarypsychiatrist is charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and32 counts of attempted premeditated murder in that case.

On Tuesday, a few dozen relatives and friends of the victimsgathered a few miles away at Manchester High School. Outside,people talked, hugged and cried. Others talked on cell phones.

Police officers from numerous agencies and police and firevehicles surrounded the warehouse, on a tree-lined road in anindustrial park just west of a shopping mall.

The Hollander family is widely respected in Manchester, saidstate Rep. Ryan Barry, a lifelong resident. He said thefamily-owned Hartford Distributors sponsors local sports teams andthe family is civic-minded.

In a statement, Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell offeredcondolences to the victims' families and co-workers.

"We are all left asking the same questions: How could someonedo this? Why did they do this?" she said.

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