The shooting rampage on Tuesday morning at Hartford Distributors in Manchester, CT left nine people dead, including the gunman, and the Teamsters local mourning the loss of seven of its members.
“Yesterday, our family here at Local 1035 suffered a tragedy that no one should have to endure,” Chris Roos, secretary-treasurer of Local 1035, said during a press conference Wednesday. “These men were not only victims of a crime, they were the men who were loved by their families and cherished by all of us here at the union.”
According to police and local media reports, the shooting started shortly after Omar Thornton, a member of Local 1035 and truck driver for Hartford Distributors, Connecticut’s largest beer and wine distributor, met with his local union representative, Bryan Cirigliano, and members of management. The meeting, according to police and union officials, was to give Thornton an opportunity to resign his position after the company said it obtained video of him stealing product from his truck.
Thornton did resign before opening fire, injuring Steven Hollander, the company’s chief financial officer and a member of the family which owns the distributorship, and killing Cirigliano and Louis Felder, the director of operations. Hollander was wounded.
From there, according to police, the shootings appeared to be random, leaving six others dead: William Ackerman, Francis Fazio, Edwin Kennison, Victor James, Craig Pepin, and Douglas Scruton.
“This was something completely unanticipated,” said Gregg Addler, union counsel. “There was nothing about this person’s behavior or attitude in the workplace that caused us or apparently the company to have any particular concerns.”
The union and company have both denied claims by Thornton’s family that he was a victim of racism. Police have said they have no record of a complaint either. The shooting is the worst incident of workplace violence in Connecticut’s history.
“My heart goes out to the victims and their families at this tragic time,” said Jim Hoffa, Teamsters General President. “Although no words can ease this terrible pain and loss, I hope those involved are able to take comfort in knowing that 1.4 million men and women are standing with them now and always.”
The Teamsters have set up a memorial fund for the victim. Donations may be sent to:
Teamsters Local 1035 Hartford Distributors Memorial Fund
c/o Teamsters Local Union 1035
400 Chapel Road, 2-B
South Windsor, Connecticut 06074