Dispatcher: State Police.
Thornton: Yeah, this 911?
Dispatcher: Yeah, can I help you?
Thornton: This is Omar Thornton, the, uh, the shooter over in Manchester.
Dispatcher: Yes, where are you, sir?
Thornton: I'm in the building. Uh, you probably want to know the reason why I shot this place up. This place here is a racist place.
Dispatcher: Yup, I understand that
Thornton: They treat me bad over here, and they treat all the other black employees bad over here too, so I just take it into my own hands and I handled the problem — I wish I coulda got more of the people.
If you go to Google News and type in:
ENFIELD, Conn. — A woman hiding under her desk tells an emergency dispatcher that a co-worker is in the midst of a shooting spree. The dispatcher presses for any information about the man.
"I don't know anything," the woman says, according to a 911 tape released Wednesday. "He's a tall black guy. He's like the only black guy that works here."
Family and friends say Omar Thornton was only too painfully aware of that distinction, as he claimed he was subjected to racial discrimination while working as a union driver at Hartford Distributors in Manchester. ...
A union official described Thornton as a dissatisfied worker whose first targets were the three people in his disciplinary meeting: Steve Hollander, 50, a member of the family that owns the company, who was shot twice but survived; Bryan Cirigliano, 51, president of Teamsters 1035 and Thornton's representative at the hearing; and Louis Felder, 50, who news reports described as the company's operations director.
Other victims were Doug Scruton, 56; Bill Ackerman, 51; Francis Fazio Jr., 57; Edwin Kennison, 49; Craig Pepin, 60; and Victor James, 60. Jerome Rosenstein, 77, was wounded and was in serious condition Wednesday at Hartford Hospital.
Friends and family of those who died said they couldn't imagine their loved ones discriminating against Thornton.
One driver who was killed, Kennison, had mentioned Thornton before but never in a derogatory way, said Mark McCorrison, a close friend. Kennison was not the type to make bigoted remarks, he said.
"I can tell you right now: Eddie is not that person," McCorrison said.
Pepin, also a driver, was never angry, let alone someone who showed any hint of racism or bigotry, said a neighbor who knew him for 25 years.
"Craig, who was active as a coach in town with all kids -- all races of kids -- for years, he didn't care. He just worked with the kids," Ted Jenny said. "There was no way Craig Pepin was racist."
The only complaint Thornton ever made to the union was when he asked to be promoted from an entry-level job to a driver, said Gregg Adler, a union lawyer. The union explained to him that because of seniority rules, he would have to wait his turn until a job opened up. Eventually it did, and he was promoted about a year ago, Adler said.
Michelle T. Johnson, a diversity consultant and former employment lawyer, said workers who face discrimination are often reluctant to file a formal complaint, even if the misconduct is serious.
"Once a person of color raises an issue of discrimination, the reaction they can get just makes it very stressful," she said.
It's never too early to discuss what should be done if evidence of white racism emerges in this investigation. Should the dead white racists be dug up and shot again? Or perhaps the grieving relatives of the late Mr. Thornton should get to shoot some of the relatives of the dead white racists who weren't nice to Mr. Thornton?