Disgruntled Driver Kills 8 at Hartford Distributors


Image: Puamelia/Flickr

A driver for Connecticut beer and wine wholesaler Hartford Distributors has shot and killed at least 8 at the workplace. The Hartford Courant has more:

Sources said Omar S. Thornton, 34, was a driver for the company and was described by a Teamsters Union official as a recent hire and a “disciplinary problem.”

“The union was bringing him in to meet with the company to remedy the problem,” said John Hollis, a Teamsters official. “He started shooting.”

Thornton shot a number of people and then shot himself with a .223 caliber semiautomatic rifle as police approached and is dead, sources said. Two people were shot outside the building and five were shot inside, police sources said.

Joanne Hannah, who lives in the Enfield neighborhood where Thornton lived until about a month ago, said her daughter Kristi had dated Thornton for eight years. Thornton, who is black, had complained about being racially harassed at work. Thornton brought his complaints to his superiors, who did nothing about it, she said her daughter told her.

Uh-oh. Here’s the race issue again. Expect media hoopla for the next week or so.

Although workplace violence has been dropping in the US for the past 15 years, according to WTNH, Connecticut has seen its fair share:

On March 6, 1998 an angry Connecticut Lottery employee, Matt Beck, killed four of his supervisors and then himself. The scene that day was chaotic, much like it must have been this morning in Manchester.

In response to the Lottery shootings, the state toughened it’s workplace violence laws in 1999, adopting a zero tolerance policy and putting together a Violence in the Workplace Policy and Procedures Manual. The idea is to offer guidelines to identify potential problems and prevent things from escalating.

But the issue of workplace violence moved back into the spotlight in Connecticut last fall when Yale graduate student Annie Le was murdered inside a lab building. There have been a lot of theories about a motive, but police called the murder an incident of workplace violence. The case against the suspect, lab tech Raymond Clark III, is still going through the courts.

Makes me wonder how effective workplace violence laws and training really are for homicides like the one in Manchester. I can see such laws preventing more mild forms of violence, but if someone wants to shoot, if they’re that enraged, they’ll probably do it anyway.