Like many of us, The Village Voice is wondering, Was Yesterday’s Workplace Shooting in Manchester, CT, Race-Related?
Among the victims killed, many seemingly randomly, were Bryan Cirigliano and Victor James, fellow drivers and union representatives who reportedly tried to save Thornton’s job, …
In the aftermath of the incident, questions are emerging as to whether the shooting was race-related. Hannah said that Thornton (who is black) had complained about racial harassment at work, including a racial slur and noose on a bathroom wall, which he is said to have taken photos of. And according to Will Holliday, Thornton’s uncle, whom Thornton apparently spoke to after the shootings: “He said, ‘I killed the five racists that was there bothering me. He said, ‘That’s it. The cops are going to come in so I’m going to take care of it myself.'”
But he killed eight people, not five . . .
Chris Roos, secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 1035 in South Windsor, said, “There has never been a racial discrimination complaint made to the union and there has not been one made to any state or federal office that I’m aware of. It’s got nothing to do with race. This is a disgruntled employee who shot a bunch of people.”
Hartford Distributors is saying that Thornton stole some beer. That could be a firing offense. Having been around the block a few times, I’d be curious to know if heisting a sixpack was truly unusual at that company or just a handy excuse to let him go.
[Update per the NY Times]
Mr. Thornton had been trailed for about three weeks by a private investigator hired by the company, the police said, and that person apparently observed him take beer while on his route. The company had video documenting his theft, and when Mr. Thornton reviewed it in his disciplinary hearing, he calmly remarked “how good their surveillance camera was,” Lieutenant Davis said.
The Times also points out that Thornton was very well-armed:
When Omar S. Thornton came to work at Hartford Distributors on Tuesday, he stashed a metal lunchbox containing two 9-millimeter handguns in the kitchenette before going to a disciplinary hearing in the room next door, the authorities said. That set the stage for a shooting spree that appeared to show more cool calculation than impulsive employee outrage.
Mr. Thornton then took a moment outside with his union representative to discuss his course of action, and signed the one-sentence resignation letter. His escorts brought him to the kitchenette next door, and when he retrieved his guns, they were Mr. Thornton’s first victims.
The chief said it was unclear whether Mr. Thornton had fired more than one gun in the attack. One law enforcement official said that Mr. Thornton used a 9-millimeter Ruger in the attack. Another official, Lieutenant Davis of the Manchester police, said numerous guns were registered to Mr. Thornton, a tall, heavyset man with significant debts, a career as a truck driver for a number of companies in the state and a girlfriend who could not make sense of the slaughter.
On Wednesday, Lieutenant Davis said that police officers found a shotgun and a clip in Mr. Thornton’s car outside the plant. A 40-caliber gun and a 22-caliber gun were also registered under his name.
[End of update.]
I’m not sure how they would know, but The Daily Ructions blog asserts that Thornton spent quite some time prowling the warehouse, but was selective in who he shot, even sparing a pleading woman because she was in a wheelchair. [The NY Times corroborates this account]
So I wonder. I sit next to a quiet Nigerian fellow at my office – a recent father. He’s a ‘Skins fan, and I was before Snyder, so we occasionally laugh about that team’s travails. Will racism get so bad that I will have to fear him someday? Or has it always been that bad – just lurking below the surface?
Back in the 1990s I used to drive big company Oldsmobiles over the mountains between my employer’s three offices in PA, listening to the talk radio programs that the strongest AM stations carried: Medical doctors Dean Edell and Gabe Mirkin, therapists Joy Browne and Laura Schlessinger, financial advisors Bruce Williams and the Dolans, and of course, Rush Limbaugh.
This was way before he played Barack the Magic Negro, but Limbaugh’s coy jokes and focus on race seemed to be paving the way for a return to a more open disregard for blacks in general. His producers only let dissenters on the air if they sounded dumb or crazy, and the few black people that got through sounded even dumber. I recall one that kept calling him, “Russ,” in a friendly, familiar way, even while Limbaugh laughed at him.
The Hartford Courant profiles the victims. None of them sound like they were such rabid racists that they needed to be killed, but they’re dead anyway, and Rush has plenty to talk about this month.