MANCHESTER, Conn. (CBS 2) — It was a day of heartbreak in Connecticut as funerals were held for four of the victims of this week’s Manchester shooting massacre, reports CBS 2′s Rob Morrison.
They were gunned down by Omar Thornton, a fellow employee at Hartford Distributors who claimed he was the victim of racial discrimination. Many who knew the victims, though, say such claims are unfathomable.
“Just a lot of heartache and wondering why this senseless act happened,” Brian Kelley, a friend of one of the victims, said.
There was an enormous outpouring of support for the families of those lost in the shooting rampage. A large police contingent was on-hand for the funeral of Bryan Cirigliano, whose daughter had just become an officer in Hartford.
Her boyfriend, Neil Ouellette, talked about how Cirigliano tried to help Omar Thornton after he was caught on tape stealing beer.
“He was fighting for the guy so he didn’t get fired or arrested, so to be classified in that racism thing is wrong,” Ouellette said.
Friends and loved ones also gathered Saturday to remember Doug Scruton. His wife, Mikel, is struggling to cope with the loss.
“He was a dear, gentle soul,” Mikel said. “He was a good friend to everybody, and he was an excellent husband. I’m going to miss him. This really still hasn’t sunken in.”
Brian Kelley remembered Scruton, saying his friend wasn’t responsible for Thornton’s claims.
“I don’t know where they came up with this racial stuff, because Doug was far from that,” Kelley said. “He was a good friend to everybody.”
At Craig Pepin’s funeral, many spoke of his attempt to warn coworkers that a gunman was on the loose.
“Knowing Craig, he would have certainly put other people’s lives before his own,” friend Marie Bey said.
The devastated family of shooting victim Vic James simply can’t imagine filling the void their loved one left behind.
“We have memories that will go on and on, and we’re so sad that we can’t make more,” Denise Mikalonis, James’ daughter, said.
Funerals for the remainder of the victims are expected to be held early next week.