After killing eight people, Omar Thornton calmly called 911 and talked to a state police dispatcher for nearly four minutes, saying he "took things into his own hands" and regretted not killing more people before hanging up and killing himself as three police officers closed in.
"Hi, is this 911? This is Omar Thornton. The shooter over in Manchester,'' Thornton calmly told Trooper William Taylor.
"You probably want to know the reason why I shot this place up. Basically this is a racist place,'' Thornton told Taylor. "They treat me bad over here. They treat all other black people bad over here, too, so I just took things into my own hands and handled the problem. I wish I could have gotten more of the people."
Thornton was calling from the offices of Hartford Distributors Inc. moments after he killed eight co-workers and injured several more. Several times he told Taylor that he was "relaxed."
"I'm not going to kill nobody else here. I just want to tell my story so that you can play it back,'' Thornton said.
Several times, Taylor asked Thornton where he was in the building, but Thornton refused to say, hinting that he was going to kill himself.
"When they find me, everything will already be all over," Thornton said.
Thornton told the trooper that he sees the SWAT team in Army gear going past him. At one point he contemplates giving himself up.
"Well -- I guess, I guess maybe I'll surrender nah. They can come and get me, have to come and get me,'' he said.
Thornton was calling from a cellphone. That's why his 911 call went to Troop H and not to Manchester police. The cellphone was not his, sources said.
Manchester Police Lt. Christopher Davis said that police found Thornton's cellphone in his car. The battery was dead and police have sent it to a forensic laboratory to be analyzed, Davis said.
Thornton's girlfriend and family members have said that he had evidence of racial discrimination against him on that phone, including pictures that he took of a hangman's noose drawn on the wall of the employee bathroom.
Several times, Thornton referred to Hartford Distributors as a racist company.
"You don't know where I'm at, but, I don't know, maybe you can trace it from this phone call. But, yeah, these people here are crazy, they treat me bad from the start here, racist company. They treat me bad, I'm the only black driver they got here,'' Thornton said.
Company officials have repeatedly denied the allegations of racism, saying that Thornton never filed any complaints about being discriminated against. At a press conference Thursday, union officials said that 14 of 69 union workers are minorities, including four African Americans.
Thornton signed a letter of resignation after a short meeting at 7 a.m. Tuesday at which company officials showed him video surveillance tapes of him taking beer off a truck and putting it into a private vehicle. After he resigned, Thornton said he needed a drink of water from the kitchen. He went into the kitchen and pulled out two 9mm pistols and started firing. He killed director of operations Louis Felder, 50, of Stamford, and his union representative, Bryan Cirigliano, 51, of Newington, instantly.
He then proceeded into the warehouse and started shooting, at one point chasing two men -- Edwin Kennison, 49, of East Hartford, and Victor James, 60 of Windsor, into the parking lot, where he gunned them down. He returned to the warehouse and killed four more co-workers, including two -- Francis Fazio, 57, of Bristol, and Craig Pepin, 60, of South Windsor, who were warning people to run out of the building. The others killed were Doug Scruton, 56, of Manchester and New Hampshire, and William Ackerman, 51, of South Windsor.
Several employees ran out a back door while others hid in closets or dark offices. Many called 911, giving different descriptions of what Thornton was wearing, which confused the groups of police officers who responded and went inside the building.
Thornton retreated to the southwest corner of the office building and made the 911 call at about 7:55 a.m.
Taylor, a 25-year veteran of the state police, kept Thornton on the phone for nearly four minutes. Several times, Taylor urged Thornton to turn himself in so that no more people would die.
State Police Col. Thomas Davoren credited Taylor with keeping Thornton busy while police were searching for him.
"He [Taylor] told me afterwards that the more he kept Thornton talking to him, the less chance he was going to have to shoot anybody else,'' Davoren said.
Thornton answered questions, such as the type of gun he was using -- an SR9 Ruger -- and when Taylor asked if it was an automatic weapon, Thornton told him it was a pistol and said, "I like pistols, they are my favorite." At one point, Thornton seemed to be trying to count how many bullets he had left before saying "enough left to take care of business."
His last words to the trooper before hanging up were: "Tell my people that I love them and I gotta go now."
A state trooper and two South Windsor officers found Thornton moments later. He had shot himself once in the head.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun