Friends, Families Gather In South Windsor To Remember Fallen

MANCHESTER, Conn. (CBS 2/ 1010 WINS/AP) — Omar Thornton sat calmly in a meeting with union representatives and his supervisors as they showed a video of him stealing beer from the distributor where he worked.

Busted, he didn’t put up a fight, company officials said. He quietly signed a letter of resignation and was headed for the door when he pulled out a gun and started firing — “cold as ice,” as one survivor described it.

“We think he may have carried them in a lunchbox and carried them into a kitchen area,” Manchester Police Lt. Christopher Davis told CBS 2’s Sean Hennessey.

Photo Gallery: 9 Dead In Connecticut Shooting Spree

The warehouse driver left the guns in the kitchen and then went to the hearing where he was given the choice to quit or be fired.

“After the conclusion of the meeting he went back into the kitchen area. He asked for a drink of water and we believe at that point he got them … the lunchbox with the guns,” Lt. Davis said.

And police said Thornton stepped out into the hallway and immediately shot two managers involved in his dismissal. Once the gunshots rang out, so did chaos. Some called 911:

Caller: “I’m bleeding all over the place.”

911 dispatcher: “OK, how many people got shot?”

Caller: “I don’t know.”

Then there was this exchange with another worker:

911 dispatcher: “Are you hiding?”

Caller: “Yes.”

911 dispatcher: “Stay down where you are. And hold on a second.”

Caller: “Oh my God.”

Another dispatcher took this chilling call:

911 dispatcher: “Are you in the back hiding? Can you lock the door?”

Caller: “I don’t want to get up. Do you have him?”

911 dispatcher: “They do not have him yet.”

Caller: “I don’t want to get up.”

Workers hid anywhere they could as Thornton methodically murdered eight people.

“From the hallway he went through an office complex and then went into a large warehouse area. There was some additional victims there,” Lt. Davis said.

Police said the beer delivery driver spared some lives as he walked past but seemed intent on killing others.

“He then chased one or more individuals through the building and out to the parking lot,” Lt. Davis said.

Witnesses saw Thornton tearing through the lot.

Steve Hollander told the 911 dispatcher: “I see him running now. He’s running away right now. He’s shooting at somebody else. He’s still shooting.”

911 dispatcher: “He’s outside?”

Hollander: “He’s shooting at a girl.”

As police received more 911 calls, Thornton, 34, went back into the building to continue the carnage before finding an office where he called his mother then turned his weapon on himself.

Police said Thornton did not have a master list of victims nor did he leave behind a suicide note, leaving authorities to wonder if he took the motive for this murderous madness to his grave.

On Tuesday night, Thornton’s family spoke out saying he blamed his actions on racial harassment.

“He said ‘I killed the five racists that was there, that was bothering me,'” Thornton’s uncle Will Holliday told reporters Tuesday.

One of the victims caught up in the bloodbath was 50-year-old Louis Felder of Stamford, a supervisor at Hartford Distributors.

Friends say they are “stunned” and “shocked” that Felder, a member of the Orthodox Jewish community, was among those caught up in the bloodbath, 1010 WINS reporter Steve Sandberg reports.

At least 500 people attended Wednesday’s funeral for Felder at Congregation Agudath Sholom in Stamford.  The service took place one day after his death, in accordance with his beliefs as an Orthodox Jew.

Felder had just celebrated his 50th birthday on Sunday. He leaves behind a wife and three teenage children, who after wishing their dad goodbye as he went to work Tuesday were left to write his eulogies, Sandberg reports.

Thornton’s girlfriend — 26-year-old Kristi Hannah says he showed her evidence of racial harassment at work and that’s what drove him to retaliate.

Hannah told the AP he showed her photos he took with his cell phone of a picture drawn on a bathroom wall. It was a stick figure with a noose around his neck and the N-word.

She says, another time, he was in a bathroom and held up his phone. She says she could hear a company official, in conversation with someone else and apparently unaware Thornton was in a stall. She says the officials said they were going to “get rid of” Thornton and used a racial epithet.

The distribution facility remains closed Wednesday as the investigation continues.

Family and friends gathered Wednesday night at St. Margaret Nary Church in South Windsor to remember the victims. Numbed with pain and stunned by sadness, a community came together with hugs, tears, and so many questions.

“Why did this have to happen to these people and to my friend?” said Terri Rizzo, a friend of fallen Craig Pepin.

That was unanswerable among those huddled shoulder to shoulder in a standing room-only service dedicated to the lives snatched away, reports CBS 2’s Hennessey.

“When you see these just ordinary folks, working people, trying to do the best they can, when something like this hits out of the blue, it’s just unthinkable,” said Connecticut House Majority Leader Denise Merrill.

Amidst the massacre, one of the victims, Pepin, was called a hero.

“He saw the man coming in with the guns and told everybody to run out the back door. And I am sure, I am sure that he tried to stop this man from reaching those who were going out that door. And the man shot him in the head and killed him,” Rev. Daniel Sullivan said.

On Wednesday night a spokesman for the family that runs the beer company said they were blindsided by the unexplainable.

“It’s hit them extremely hard as you can imagine and everyone is just sort of in a state of shock and mystified,” said Hollander family spokesman James Battaglio.

They aren’t alone in trying to cope.

“You can’t forget these guys and the goodness that they did,” resident Roger Whitman said.

In the coming days, more loved ones will gather at places like this to say goodbye, while trying to come to grips with the evil that left behind of the worst workplace mass murders this country has ever seen.

Comments (29)
  1. Laila Rogers says:

    There are plenty of racists in the Trucking community. I’m white and saw racist moves and tactics all the time in the Trucking company I worked for. Ain’t that right Sunline?

  2. Kaiser says:


  3. cate says:

    Just to be fair, they have video if him stealing.

    1. Kaiser says:


  4. KMarshall says:

    All I said is that we need to know the whole story, that doesn’t justify his actions but we need to know why he snapped before we just disrespect the man… It’s hard out here, some people are likely to snap with a build-up of feelings. Especially if you feel like people are being prejudice and racist in the work place.


  5. 4 Real says:

    Hey 4 real’r…. you quoted me saying…”introduced in your new hood? he’s dead you moron did you even read the article?” It’s a metaphoric point about his new home. Of coarse you didn’t get it…., your probably as illiterate as was Omar the Murder.

  6. BX GIRL says:

    I agree with Melissa and would like to add, it’s sad how you hear the racism in some of these comments. You’re no better than the shooter yet you sit there being so judgmental. This is why the world is so messed up today. God help us all and my sincere heart felt prayers go out to the families of those who lost love ones in this tragedy.

  7. REG says:

    Incidents like these hurt everyone involved. Why not try to ind out what causes people like him and others to get to a place where they feel they have no way out and find ways to try and avoid future events like this.

  8. 4 Real says:

    May the 8 people rest in eternal peace and the RACIST MURDERER, THIEF and shear MORON, explain his actions to Jesus. Good luck with that. NO love in that cold blooded, spineless heart in his narcissistic kingdom. The first responder put it best… he cries racism and he STEALS AND MURDERS? This is not a white of black thing… its a cowardly thing, no morals. NONE. He has made love stronger instead of dragging and scaring this world. Why cany EVERYONE… white, black, his family call this for what it is? Ohhh I see, I can hear you now… he was treated poorly? Hmmm, STOP covering up this situation and call it what it is. HE IS A COLD BLOODED, heartless, lazy coward. His slime and memory are OFF this planet and resides below with tougher minds to deal with. Good luck with being introduced in your new hood as “Welcome everyong, this is Omar the MURDERER!”

    1. 4 real'r says:

      introduced in your new hood? he’s dead you moron did you even read the article?

      1. Kaiser says:


  9. Jimb says:

    KMarshall you are a freakin idiot

  10. Melissa says:

    It is obvious to me that this guy stole the beer knowing full well that he was beiing video tape in order to be fire so that he could take out the people who was harrassing him at the same time. This is a very sad situation that this had to happen. We all need to remember that we are all one race and that is the human race. We need to treat each other as we would like to be treated, but still that is not a reason for someone to take anybody life. My condolences goes out to all the families.

    1. Kaiser says:


  11. Kevin S says:

    He is a murderer. Its very upseting to defend a person like this. Maybe Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson should investigate these claims? 7 innocent people were killed and no remorse by this cowards family. What a shame.

    1. Kaiser says:

      How do you know the family hasn’t sent their condolences? I forgot, “YOU KNOW ALL AND YOU SEE ALL, WOW!!!”

  12. Anon says:

    Even with the assumption that he was a perfect employee who was harrassed and framed for the theft–it does not justify cold-blooded murder. Period.

    1. Kaiser says:

      I agree!!! Sombody on here with some insight…

  13. Big Picture says:

    All you people and your opinions. It’s so funny how we can judge what other people have done based on poorly given facts by today’s media. Nobody knows except for the people that are unfortunately dead and the shooter who is also dead. We all sit here and write our stupid comments on here (including myself) but the real question is: Why are people killing each other in the first place? All I see in the new is boyfriends abusing children, mothers killing their children and then themselves. What is this world coming to? Why aren’t we talking about that? Instead we sit here and speculate on why this man decided to kill 8 people. Nobody knows but him, if that.

  14. LilyWhite says:

    Why is it when the blacks do something, race ALWAYS has to play a role in it. ALWAYS! They get fired, it’s bc they’re black. They don’t get their way, it’s bc they’re black. This is exactly why firms do not want to hire blacks – they always, always, always play the race card and expect nothing to happen to them bc they are black.

    I find it hard to believe that he was harrassed and did nothing. Blacks are always looking for the easy way out so a lawsuit would be sufficient.

    1. Kaiser says:

      So, are you racist? Because it sounds like it to me!!!

  15. valerie says:

    Seriously? He was caught on video and didn’t protest signing a resignation form. Regardless of any of that, he committed MURDER in cold blood. I don’t think there’s anything more to THAT story.

  16. KMarshall says:

    Mind you this company only had 2 people of color working there. The shooter, and some other guy who was Jamaican.

    1. LilyWhite says:

      Ok, so there were only blacks working there. AND? Manchester, CT is still mostly white. Would you make you feel better if it was mostly black?

  17. valerie says:

    There are other ways to combat harrassment than committing cold blooded murder. Blaming it on racist is cowardly. God rest the poor victims of this animal!

  18. KMarshall says:

    We really don’t know. Maybe he didn’t steal, maybe it was a set up by someone raciest or who had something against him. Why would he steal and then shoot up the place? I feel like it’s more to this story, as usual.

  19. willie says:

    This low life thief blames everyone else for his racism. MAY HE ROT IN HELL

  20. Tom says:

    Let’s blame it on race never mind the stealing and murder… this is pathetic.

    1. L from NJ says:

      He was a thief and if he identified people to kill based on their race – I think HE would be the racist. Wow – always a spin when a black person commits a crime!

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