Connecticut Gunman: 'I Wish I Could Have Killed More People'

Despite CEO's statement, girlfriend of gunman alleges racial harassment.

August 3, 2010, 11:24 AM

Aug. 5, 2010 — -- After hunting down and killing coworkers that he thought were racist, the gunman at the Connecticut beer distributorship called 911 and calmly explained that he was done shooting but wished he had murdered more.

"You probably want to know the reason for this," Omar Thornton said in a relaxed tone."This place is a racist place. They treat me bad over here and all the other black employees bad over here too."

"So I took it into my own hands and handled the problem," he said. "I wish I could've got more of the people."

"I'm not going to kill nobody else though," said Thornton. "I'm calmed down."

Thornton refused to tell the operator where in the building he was located, "These cops are going to kill me," he said.

"When they find me that's when everything's going to be over," said Thornton.

Before abruptly ending the four minute call, Thornton told the operator that he was the only black driver at the company and claimed that he had been treated badly since he was hired. Thornton also admitted to the operator that he was armed but that he only had one gun left because he left the second in the warehouse.

A recording of Thornton's 911 call was made just hours after the CEO of Hartford Distributors today dismissed claims that racial harassment at the company drove Thornton to brutally gun down eight of his co-workers at the company's Connecticut warehouse Tuesday.

Speaking to reporters at an afternoon news conference, CEO Ross Hollander read prepared remarks about each of the victims, recalling his memories of their character. Hollander said that Thornton, who killed himself, had been "embraced" at the company until a company investigation revealed that he had been stealing and reselling beer.

"As for the claims that Omar's actions were the result of racial insensitivity, I can state to you unequivocally that no claim has ever been brought to the attention of our company," Hollander said, adding that no complaint had ever been filed with neither the company nor the government.

Hollander called the shooting an "inexplicable act," and spokesman James Battaglio noted that of 69 dockworkers at the warehouse, four were African Americans, nine Hispanic and one Asian.

Earlier today on "Good Morning America," Thornton's girlfriend described a far different workplace, saying she heard evidence of enough racial harassment the man had allegedly suffered at work to drive someone "crazy."

"He said every day when he'd come in, there'd be new stuff on the [bathroom] wall," Kristi Hannah said. "One was a hangman with a noose around his neck and underneath it said, 'Kill the n-word.'"

Hannah, who said she was gunman Omar Thornton's girlfriend for nine years, said he showed her cell phone pictures of the racial slurs written in the bathroom.

"I know what I seen on that wall and that picture and that would make somebody go crazy," she said. "If they keep doing it to somebody over and over and over and over and over. And I know that was happening to him because no one just wakes up one day and does that."

911 Calls Detail Hartford Shooting

Hannah's comments came in stark contrast to those made on panicked 911 calls during the 45 minute rampage which were released Wednesday.

"Someone got shot, I got shot," Steven Hollander, the vice president of Hartford Distributors, told a 911 operator as he hid in his office. "We need the cops."


Hollander told the operator he knew the gunman.

"His name is Omar Thornton. He's a black guy, and get the cops here right away, I'm bleeding all over the place," Hollander said. "We need cops right away."

Hollander is believed to be one of the first of Thornton's victims and one of the few to survive after being shot. He was treated at a Hartford hospital for a gunshot wound to his neck.

Thornton opened fire right after meeting with Hollander, 50, who had given him a choice either to be fired or quit. Thornton had been trailed by a private investigator hired by the company after he was suspected of stealing alcohol from the distributor, police said.

In the 911 call, Hollander described a scene of complete chaos.

"There are people running all over the place," he said. "He's running, he's shooting at someone else, he's still shooting. He's still running after people, he's not leaving."

"Oh, s***, he's still shooting, I hear guns out there," Hollander said. "He's in the parking lot shooting people, he's carrying a red lunch bag."

When the 911 operator asked Hollander if the gunman had worked at the distributor, Hollander said, "Yeah, 'til I just fired him."

"Today, just now, before he started shooting," Hollander said. "He's chasing people in the parking lot."

One woman told emergency dispatchers she was hiding in a storage closet, crying for help and repeating "Oh my God, Oh my God."

Thornton passed over several people during the rampage inside and around the distributor, according to Manchester Police Lt. Chris Davis, who said Wednesday authorities believe the first few victims were likely targeted.

Davis declined to specify who the first of Thornton's victims were, but said that many of those who were killed were "executives" or "higher level" employees. All of those who were shot were 49 or older.

Recounting the Shooting

The first of Thornton's victims were found right outside the kitchenette where authorities believe he had stowed two handguns in a red metal lunchbox.

At one point, Thornton chased two people outside of the building and shot them, said Davis. He shot through a glass window to reenter the building, which was locked, and continued shooting.

The first 911 call was received just before 7:30 a.m., according to Davis.

When authorities arrived just three minutes later, the scene was "chaotic" and the walls of the massive distributorship were hard to navigate because of the stacks of liquor cartons that created makeshift hallways.

"We got calls from people under their desks and hiding in their offices," said Davis. "He really went through the whole building in a fairly short amount of time."

One of the 911 calls was made by an unidentified woman who was crying as she told the operator what Thornton looked like.

"He's a tall black guy, he's like the only lack guy who works here almost," the woman told the operator. "Come get me."

Another unidentified man called 911 and told operators that he knew people were dead.

"I know for a fact two people are dead in here. In the hallway, they were both shot right in the head," the man said.

Police eventually found Thornton, dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, in a corner office on the southwest side of the building.

Thornton had signed a one-line resignation letter after he was confronted with video surveillance evidence that showed him stealing alcohol from the distributor. A moment later, Thornton requested a drink of water and went to a nearby kitchenette where Davis said he had stowed his weapon-packed lunchbox.

Hartford Distributors Shootings: Details Emerge About Gunman Omar Thornton

Thornton used two 9mm handguns during the attack, and authorities later found another shotgun and extra clip of ammunition in his car. Davis said that it is believed the three guns were purchased at an East Windsor gun store. Hoffman's Gun Center, a store in East Windsor, is listed on Thornton's Facebook page.

Wilbert Holliday, Thornton's uncle, told ABC News that he didn't think the shooting was random and that his nephew had complained about racial discrimination at work.

Holliday said that Thornton called his mother after the shooting spree and talked to her for about ten minutes, telling her, "I killed the racists that were bothering me."

According to Holliday, Thornton had filed complaints with the Teamsters union about alleged racial harassment and had pictures on his cell phone of the N-word and a hangman's noose scrawled on a bathroom wall at Hartford Distributors.

Union representatives strongly denied the allegations.

Gregg Adler, a union attorney, said Thornton had never filed a harassment complaint with the union, but had filed a separate grievance that had been settled in his favor regarding insufficient training. Adler said that it was clear Thornton knew the protocol for filing a complaint.

Asked about the union's denials that Thornton had filed a complaint, Holliday said, "Of course they're going to say that."

The newest employee of the distributorship's 65 drivers, Thornton began shooting at what would have been one of the busiest times of day at the warehouse.

"It couldn't have been a worse time of day," said John Hollis of the Teamsters Union. "The day shift was coming in and the office staff was all there. It was the time of day where the most employees would be in the building."

Connecticut Shootings: Chaos as Gunman Prowled Hartford Beer Distributorship

Davis said authorities believe about 50 people were in the building at the time of the shooting.

Early Wednesday Manchester police released the names of those who died in the shooting. Among the dead are 57-year-old Francis Fazio Jr., 56-year-old Douglas Scruton, 49-year-old Edwin Kennison, 51-year-old William Ackerman, 51-year-old Bryan Cirigliano, 60-year-old Craig Pepin, 50-year-old Louis Felder Jr. and 61-year-old Victor James.

Police listed two men survived gunshot wounds. In addition to Steven Hollander, 77-year-old Jerome Rosenstein is in critical condition at Hartford Hospital.

ABC News' Clarissa Ward and Bradley Blackburn contributed to this report.

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events