Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Hartford Courant-Shooting Spree at Conn. Workplace Claims Nine Lives

photo credit: Mark Mirko and Patrick Raycraft/Hartford Courant
(story reported by David Owens and Dave Altimari)

Omar Thornton almost slept through his 6 a.m. wakeup call Tuesday, springing to life only after the teenage brother of his girlfriend nudged him awake.

The 34-year-old kissed his girlfriend Kristi Hannah goodbye, told her he loved her, and then left her East Windsor apartment for work at Hartford Distributors Inc. in Manchester, where he was to meet about 7 a.m. with company and union officials about allegations that he had stolen beer from the beverage wholesaler.

Within hours, he was lying dead on an office floor, having taken his own life as police closed in after a rampage that left eight co-workers dead and made him the biggest mass murderer in state history.

As police worked to unravel what caused Thornton to snap and randomly shoot co-workers as they fled out a back door into nearby woods or sought refuge under desks and other furniture, Hartford Distributors workers consoled each other as they learned who had made it out safely and who had not.

One of Thornton's victims described him as coolly pulling out a gun after the meeting and opening fire.

"He shot at me twice and hit me a couple times," Steve Hollander, chief operating officer of the family-owned business, told The Associated Press. "By just the grace of God, I don't know how he missed [killing] me."

(click here to read the full story in the Hartford Courant)

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