A delivery driver who went on a shooting rampage at a beer distributor told an emergency operator he was the victim of racism and that he wished he had killed more people.
Omar Thornton called 911 on Tuesday after shooting 10 co-workers – eight fatally – at Hartford Distributors Inc, Connecticut, before turning the gun on himself.
He claimed he had been the victim of racism and introduced himself as ‘the shooter over in Manchester’ and said he was hiding inside the building.
In the call, he said: ‘You probably want to know the reason why I shot this place up.
‘This place is a racist place. They’re treating me bad over here. And treat all other black employees bad over here, too.
‘So I took it to my own hands and handled the problem. I wish I could have got more of the people.’
Connecticut State Police released the audio of the four-minute emergency call as the company and union officials rebutted suggestions that Thornton had been a victim of racial harassment.
Thornton, 34, went on his rampage moments after he was forced to resign when confronted with video evidence that he had been stealing and reselling beer.
The emergency call follows claims by his relatives and girlfriend that he believed he was avenging racist treatment in the workplace.
Hartford Distributors president Ross Hollander said there was no record to support claims of ‘racial insensitivity’ made through the company’s anti-harassment policy.
‘Nonetheless, these ugly allegations have been raised and the company will cooperate with any investigation,’ Mr Hollander said.
Michael Cirigliano, whose brother Bryan was killed in the shooting and was Thornton’s union representative at the disciplinary meeting, said: ‘Everybody just thinks this race card is such a wrong thing.
‘The Hispanics and the blacks were telling me they’ve never seen anything they’re accusing the company of in the bathrooms or anywhere else at HDI.
‘It’s never been separated white, black, Asian. It’s never been like that.
‘They’ve been bringing in more and more minority people to fill positions. They were hiring the groups to balance the workplace, because that’s what we are in America.’
Thornton’s ex-girlfriend Jessica Anne Brocuglio claimed he had a history of racial problems with co-workers at other jobs.
But his current girlfriend Kristi Hannah said he showed her mobile phone photos of racist graffiti in the bathrooms at the distributor and overheard managers using a racial epithet in reference to him.
The union’s lawyer, Gregg Adler, said it would have acted immediately if racial mistreatment had been raised by an employee.
He said: ‘There’s not even a connection between the violence and the accusations as far as we can tell.
‘The only people who were targeted were the people who happened to be in his meeting. And then he went to the warehouse, he just killed people who happened to be near the door.’
The emergency operator attempted to keep Thornton on the phone and to talk him into surrendering. Thornton said he would not give up his location in the building and knew police were looking for him.
‘When they find me that’s when everything is going to be over,’ he said, assuring the operator he was not going to kill anyone else.
He then said he saw an elite police team and hastened to get off the phone.
‘Tell my people I love them and I gotta go now,’ he said.
Police found him dead with a gunshot wound to his head.