More details have emerged in yesterday’s story about a black beer warehouse driver that flipped out and murked 8 co-workers and then took his own life:
Family members say Omar Thornton, the man suspected in the Tuesday morning massacre at Hartford Distributors, was a quiet, hard-working man who wasn’t a violent person, but was pushed to the breaking point by harassment at work. Thornton’s mother, who lives in East Hartford, said she received a phone call from him shortly after 7 a.m. Tuesday. According to CBS affiliate WFSB, she says he told her he had shot several people at the beer distribution plant where he worked, and that he planned to take his own life. She said she spent 10 minutes trying to talk to her son, pleading with him to change his mind, but she said she couldn’t.
Minutes later, Thornton was dead. “He said, ‘I killed the five racists that was there bothering me,’” said Will Holliday, Thornton’s uncle. “He said, ‘That’s it. The cops are going to come in so I’m going to take care of it myself.’”
Holliday said, “He had some instances of racism at the company. They were hanging nooses in the bathroom and writing stuff like that. They were singling him out because he was the only black person there in that area.” Thornton’s family said he had taken pictures of the threats and said they believe he just snapped Tuesday morning. They said they expressed condolences to the families of the victims, but they said they were mourning, too. “This all could have been avoided,” Holliday said. “He went to the Union a couple of times with issues concerning what was going on, and it was not dealt with appropriately.”
Thornton had been caught on videotape stealing beer from Hartford Distributors and was supposed to meet with company officials when the shootings began, Teamsters official Christopher Roos said. “It’s got nothing to do with race,” Roos said. “This is a disgruntled employee who shot a bunch of people.”
More on the life of Omar Thornton:
He was bankrupt by age 24, when, court filings show, his only worldly possessions were $250 worth of clothing and $600 in a checking account. Debt collectors hounded him for years. In the last two years, he landed a job as a driver for a beer distributor. He lived with a longtime girlfriend in a bumpy relationship that ended, at least temporarily, in the spring. On Facebook, he wrote of his interest in exercise supplements and guns.
None of this adds up to explain why Omar S. Thornton, 34, walked into Hartford Distributors, where he worked, in Manchester, Conn., on Tuesday morning and opened fire, killing eight people and taking his own life; the facts that first trickle in after a catastrophic crime rarely do. Mr. Thornton graduated in 1996 from East Hartford High School, where he left little impression on several classmates contacted Tuesday. He continued his education, although it is not clear where; public records show that he owed $2,500 in student loans.
By 1999, he was making deliveries for Stericycle, a medical waste disposal company in Middletown, and making $24,000 a year, according to court papers.
But the following year, Mr. Thornton filed for bankruptcy. At the time, he owed a dozen creditors, including American Express and Sprint, a total of more than $15,000. His case was resolved by April 2001, records show.
For a while, Mr. Thornton’s fortunes seemed to improve. Eight years ago, he started dating Kristi E. Hannah. A year into their relationship, he moved into the house where she was living in Enfield, about 23 miles north of Hartford.
The couple had two roommates. One, Clayton Mack, 53, said Mr. Thornton was rarely around because he was usually working. Mr. Thornton, he said, told him that he was self-employed at the time.
But the financial troubles resurfaced. About three or four years ago, Mr. Mack said, Mr. Thornton started receiving calls from debt collectors. Not long afterward, Mr. Mack recalled, he saw Mr. Thornton sitting at the kitchen table with Ms. Hannah as they shopped for a handgun on the Internet. Mr. Thornton said that he wanted the gun “just for protection,” Mr. Mack recalled.
Damn. They didn’t have to put dude’s financials on blast like that though. R.I.P.