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Manchester, CT - 9 Dead in Shooting at Beer Distributor Company of Jewish Owners

Published on: August 3, 2010 02:09 PM
Last updated on: August 3, 2010 04:33 PM
By: Hartford Courant / AP / NBC
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People are seen being evacuated from Hartford Distributors, Inc., in Manchester, Conn. Authorities say several people have been shot at the beer distribution company in Connecticut. (Hill/AP)Manchester, CT - A warehouse driver who was caught on videotape stealing beer from the distributorship where he worked went on a shooting rampage there Tuesday, killing eight people before committing suicide, authorities said.

At least two people were wounded, one critically, Manchester police said. They were expected to survive.

The gunman, identified by a company executive as Omar Thornton, had complained of racial harassment and said he found a picture of a noose and a racial epithet written on a bathroom wall, the mother of his girlfriend said. Her daughter told her that Thornton’s supervisors had not responded to his complaints, but a union official said Thornton had not filed a complaint of racism to the union or any government agency.

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.

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“It’s got nothing to do with race,” Roos said. “This is a disgruntled employee who shot a bunch of people.”

James Battaglio, a spokesman for the families who own the distributorship, said he had no immediate information about the allegations of racial harassment.

Thornton’s girlfriend had been with him the night before the rampage and had no indication he was planning it, said her mother, Joanne Hannah.

On Tuesday morning, about 50 to 70 people were in the warehouse about 10 miles east of Hartford during a shift change when the gunman opened fire around 7 a.m., said Brett Hollander, whose family owns the distributorship. Adding to the chaos was a fire at the warehouse that was put out. Police did not know whether the fire was related to the shootings.

After shooting his co-workers, Thornton called his mother, Hannah said.

“He wanted to say goodbye and he loved everybody,” said Hannah, whose daughter Kristi had dated Thornton for the past eight years.
A priest kneels in prayer with three women outside Manchester High School, a gathering point for the families, co-workers and friends of shooting victims in Manchester, Conn., Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2010.  A warehouse driver who was asked to resign his job at a beer distributor refused, then opened fire Tuesday morning, a company executive said. Police said the gunman and several other people were killed and others were wounded. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
A police sharpshooter had approval to fire on Thornton when he killed himself, an official with knowledge of the scene told the AP on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss it.

“Everybody’s got a breaking point,” Joanne Hannah said. Kristi Hannah did not return calls for comment.

Hollander’s cousin, who’s a vice president at the company, was shot in the arm and the face. Hollander said he thought his cousin would be OK.

“There was a guy that was supposed to, was asked to resign, to come in to resign and chose not to and shot my cousin and my co-workers,” Hollander said.

Among the dead was Bryan Cirigliano, 51, of Newington, president of Teamsters 1035, according to the union secretary. The Hartford Courant identified another victim as Victor James, 59, of Windsor.

The rampage was the nation’s deadliest since 13 people were fatally shot at Fort Hood, Texas, last November. A military psychiatrist is charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder in that case.

And in Connecticut, a state lottery worker gunned down four supervisors in 1998 before committing suicide, and six people were killed in 1974 in botched robbery at a bakery in New Britain. Two men were convicted of that crime.

On Tuesday, a few dozen relatives and friends of the victims gathered a few miles away at Manchester High School. Outside, people talked, hugged and cried. Others talked on cell phones.
Workers and family of workers from Hartford Distributors gather at Manchester High School in Manchester, Conn., Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2010. Authorities say several people have been shot at the beer distribution company in Connecticut. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
Police officers from numerous agencies and police and fire vehicles surrounded the warehouse, on a tree-lined road in an industrial park just west of a shopping mall.

The Hollander family is widely respected in Manchester, said state Rep. Ryan Barry, a lifelong resident. He said the family-owned Hartford Distributors sponsors local sports teams and the family is civic-minded.

“Everybody knows the Hollanders as good, generous, upstanding people,” Barry said. “They’re embedded in the community. Everyone knows Hartford Distributors. They treat their employees very well and they’re part of the fabric of the town.”

In a statement, Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell offered condolences to the victims’ families and co-workers.

“We are all left asking the same questions: How could someone do this? Why did they do this?” she said.

More from the Courant:

Steve Hollander, a member of the family that founded and owns the company, is one of the wounded, a police source said. He was shot in the neck, the source said.

Another shooting victim was identified as Bryan Cirigliano, 51, of Newington, by a man at Hartford Hospital who said he was Cirigliano’s brother. Bryan Cirigliano is the president of the Teamsters Local 1035 that represents drivers at Hartford Distributors.
Media Arrives At The Scene
Another victim was identified as Victor James, who died at Hartford Hospital, officials said…

... Hartford Distributors was founded by Jules Hollander, the father of the current president, Ross Hollander, and grandfather of Brett, the marketing chief, and Steve, who was reported to have been shot. The company was located on Tolland Street in East Hartford for many years before moving to Manchester about 15 years ago, said U.S. Rep. John B. Larson.

Last year, the company bought a rival, Franklin Distributors of South Windsor.

Larson, of East Hartford, who is close to the Hollanders and some of the union officials, visited the company in mid-morning after the shootings.

“The Hollander family is probably one of the most venerated families in the Hartford area in the Jewish community,” Larson said. “There isn’t a charity that they haven’t contributed.”



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Read Comments (20)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Aug 03, 2010 at 02:29 PM bubii Says:

here we go again a mentally disturbed man gets a hold of guns and goes on a killing spree what a country no backround cheks even if he didnt have a record why does he need a gun for?

2

 Aug 03, 2010 at 02:43 PM favish Says:

#1 maybe he stole it?

3

 Aug 03, 2010 at 02:50 PM Anonymous Says:

If some of the victims had been armed, there would have been fewer people killed.

4

 Aug 03, 2010 at 03:02 PM Anonymous Says:

Jewish?

5

 Aug 03, 2010 at 03:05 PM Anonymous Says:

Hopefully, the Obama administration and Reid/Pelosi will use this tragedy as an opportunity to impose new gun control legislation that will still satisfy judicial review. My understanding is that this may be one of the issues they will push through after the November elections so that there are no political pressures against it.

6

 Aug 03, 2010 at 03:16 PM Anonymous Says:

This is what america is all about. Freedom of everything. Any yuckel has a right to own a gun and do what he wants with it. Lets see what our intelligent president has to say to this-without his dumb teleprompter!

7

 Aug 03, 2010 at 03:50 PM mit-seichel Says:

To all you nitwits shrieking about gun control: don't you realize that a suicidal criminal will always be able to get their hands on a weapon through the black market? (They obviously don't care about the law.) On the other hand, if leftist states like Connecticutt would allow citizens to LEGALLY carry weapons, someone at the building may have had one and SAVED LIVES.

8

 Aug 03, 2010 at 03:51 PM Aryeh Says:

.223 caliber rifle = semi-automatic M16 = army gun!

9

 Aug 03, 2010 at 03:54 PM YekumPirkan Says:

It is punkt farkert. Gun control allows only the nuts, crazies, and criminals to get guns. If everyone could have guns this tragedy might have been alot less tragic, as someone would of been able to stop this madman.

10

 Aug 03, 2010 at 03:56 PM Analyst Says:

Criminals will always find there guns on the black market, whether its legal to get them or not.
The only thing is if you would allow regular law abiding citizens to carry consealed weapons, a criminal will think twice before pulling out his weapon, because, in a mere moment he'll have 7 legal weapons pointed at him!!

11

 Aug 03, 2010 at 04:02 PM ActualJew Says:

stop arguing! there are dead people here. do not worry about this or that. these poor working people lost their lives to a maniac and a Jewish family's hard-won business is attacked. i hope that they are able to get back on their feet to help the families of the dead.
G-d rest their souls.

12

 Aug 03, 2010 at 04:02 PM Observer Says:

The first thing any oppressive government does is try to disarm its citizens, so it's sad to see so many people here who support that. However, I think it's vanishingly unlikely that the Obama administration will spend any of its remaining political capital trying to confiscate our guns, especially in light of recent Supreme Court decisions affirming personal gun ownership as a constitutional right.

13

 Aug 03, 2010 at 04:15 PM closetheboardersusa Says:

GUNS don't kill people you idiots! People do! This place was probably a hell hole to work for. You boneheads always blame the guns! And "bubii" whatever the hell that means, apparently doesn't like going to a gun range and shooting. IT'S FUN YA KNOW!!! Maybe you should try it!

14

 Aug 03, 2010 at 04:54 PM RBunim Says:

Rabosai, We must all say tehillim for the injured and pray this type of incident never happens again. Let us all remember that weapons were outlawed by Hitler YMSVZ and he immediately confiscated those in the hands of Yidden and those who were not Nazi Party Members. In the USA, BH we have the right to bear arms and only criminals do not own them responsibly. This case involves a crazed UNION MEMBER. Perhaps Union Members who have disputes with Management need to be scrutinized? Rabosai, BH the USA is a free nation with the greatest CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS. We must protect our Rights and not erase them as the Democratic Party activists wish to do.

15

 Aug 03, 2010 at 05:15 PM Anonymous Says:

During election time, some Black politicians will talk about Black on Black crime. However, not one politician has the guts to talk about Black on white crime. According to FBI statistics white victims of black crimes (i.e. robbery, homicide, rapes, assaults) are eight times more likely, than are Black victims of white crimes. In this particular case in Connecticut, the perpetrator was Black, and the victims were white. If it had been the other way around, the news media would be screaming "Racist", White Supremacist", etc. Mark my words, the news media will be silent in this case. After all, only whites can be "racist", and no other group. For example, if the 1991 pogrom in Crown Heights had been Jews attacking Blacks, the news media would have enjoyed a field day. The news media is always silent when the victims are whites, especially Jews. For example, in 1986, a Chassid, was beaten and stabbed to death while waiting on a subway platform in Crown Heights. He wasn't robbed. The only reason that he was killed was because of who he was. Again, the news media ignored that case. Contrast that case, with the subway case of Bernhard Goetz!

16

 Aug 03, 2010 at 06:09 PM Anonymous Says:

Please the history. He was claim racial descrimanation which he could have brought to the union and have his case heard between him and the employer. He was being ask to leave [fired] for stealing that was caught on camera. It is the cry of wolf wolf etc. Every time a non white male is charged they yell discrimanation. I am not singling out blacks, but woman, hispanics, asias, moslem, etc etc but anybody when there is a problem and they are wrong they want to throw the racist card to get the spot light on the other person. He went with a gun because he know he was wrong and was going to loose and it was not a racial thing. Charley rANGEL is also
trying to do the same think. My Hashem bring healing to the injury and peace to the families who love ones were so brutally torn away.

17

 Aug 03, 2010 at 06:29 PM www.hlernerinsurance.com Says:

Agree with some of comments, every business should have at least 1 guy who is checked out and should carry a gun, then this cook head would have just killed himself at home.

18

 Aug 03, 2010 at 06:44 PM Texas_Eli Says:

Reply to #1  
bubii Says:

here we go again a mentally disturbed man gets a hold of guns and goes on a killing spree what a country no backround cheks even if he didnt have a record why does he need a gun for?

There are background checks. This guy was a thief that was caught and decided to become a murderer, it is as simple as that.

19

 Aug 03, 2010 at 07:12 PM Gun Rights Says:

Gun control is great for criminals, it leaves your family defensless in the middle of the night. G-d forbid.

20

 Aug 03, 2010 at 08:24 PM Moshe Says:

Reply to #5  
Says:

Hopefully, the Obama administration and Reid/Pelosi will use this tragedy as an opportunity to impose new gun control legislation that will still satisfy judicial review. My understanding is that this may be one of the issues they will push through after the November elections so that there are no political pressures against it.

More guns = less violence. If the shooter
knew that someone else had a gun he would think twice before pulling his own.

21

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