The motive behind a gunman's vicious attack at a Connecticut beer distributor that left nine dead has become clearer today after a description of the dramatic phone call the shooter reportedly made to his mother immediately after his rampage.
"I killed the five racists that was there bothering me," 34-year-old Omar S. Thornton said, according to his uncle, Will Holliday, ABC News' affiliate WABC reported.
With that, police said Thornton turned the gun on himself.
Thornton was being escorted out of the office building when he opened fire, Manchester, Conn., Police Chief Marc Montminy told reporters Tuesday.
"We believe he was offered an opportunity to quit or be terminated," Montminy said.
Montminy declined to say what led to Thornton's termination, but sources said that he was caught on video stealing beer from the distributor.
"Thornton had come in for a disciplinary hearing with a union representative and either before or after the meeting he began shooting indiscriminately," said John Hollis of the Teamsters Union Tuesday.
Thornton had complained for a long time about racial harassment, and claimed he had pictures in his cell phone of the N-word and a hangman's noose scrawled on a bathroom wall at Hartford Distributors, said Joanne Hannah, who said she was the mother of Thornton's girlfriend.
She described Thornton as a hard-working, "mellow" man. However, she said, she knew he had pistol permits and another relative said he would occasionally "come up" with a case of beer, presumably taken from the distributorship.
Thornton had "made no complaint of racism to us or to any federal or state agency," a union official told The Associated Press Tuesday.
Thornton filed for bankruptcy in 2000, ABC News confirmed.
Steve Hollander, a vice president at the beer distributorship, was shot in the neck during the attack, but treated at a hospital and released, according to a statement Tuesday by a spokesman for the Hollander family, which founded the distributorship.
"It's a very, very tight-knit family," said the statement by the spokesman, James Battiglio. "They've always had this reputation of having a wonderful rapport with their employees. In their mind, they lost a large number of family members today.
"Members of the Hollander and Stack families are understandably devastated by a tragic and senseless act," Battiglio said, referring to the families that co-own the plant. "Right now their focus is on the families of the victims and making sure that the families are given accurate information."
Another shooting survivor 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.
A representative of Hartford Hospital, where three of the shooting victims were treated, confirmed to ABC News Tuesday that one of the victims had died, while the two others were in critical and fair condition but were expected to survive.
The victim who died at the hospital has been identified as 59-year-old Victor James.