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Police Report Details Chaotic Scene at Hartford Distributors During Shooting

The Manchester Police Department released a detailed report into the shooting incident last August that resulted in eight deaths and two people wounded.

No one may ever know what prompted Omar Thornton to fill his lunchbox with a pair of 9mm handguns and methodically walk through the warehouse of Hartford Distributors mowing down eight co-workers before turning the gun on himself, but the details of that gruesome morning in early August of last year came into better focus Thursday as the .

The meticulous, downright mammoth report, which came on a compact disc broken into 13 separate sections, was made available to members of the media by the department at a press conference Thursday morning. The disc contained 543 pages worth of police reports, photos of the crime scene, audio of 911 emergency calls and telephone conversations during the incident – including Thornton’s chilling call to a 911 dispatcher moments before he shoots himself – personal images and information taken from Thornton’s cell phone and home computer. The report also includes surveillance video from a private investigative firm the distributor hired to follow Thornton that shows him removing cases of beer from the back of a delivery truck and loading them into a vehicle that belonged to an Enfield couple, one of whom was a former employee of the distributors. Not included in the report were graphic images that depicted the victims or Thornton firing any shots.

Although much of the information has already leaked out to the media in the 10 months since, the full report paints the best, most vivid picture yet of the incident that morning at the distributors Chapel Road property, including the chaotic scene inside the warehouse and on the property as Thornton walked around shooting co-workers. From the time Thornton first opened fire to the time he locked himself in an office and began calling his mother and then a 911 state police dispatcher was less than seven minutes, while police said that Thornton was only actively firing at people for about three of those minutes.

The following is a detailed account of that morning, according to the Manchester Police Department:

06:59:08 – Thornton arrives at the distributors’131 Chapel Rd. address for a disciplinary meeting with Steve Hollander, executive vice president and general manager of the family-run company, Louis Felder, a supervisor at the company, and Bryan Cirigliano, a union representative. Thornton had been informed of the meeting the day before, but was not told the purpose of it. The supervisor who informed Thornton of the meeting, Paul Cormier, joked that it might be because Thornton was getting a promotion, but Cormier told police that Thornton walked away from the conversation “looking a little down and guilty about the upcoming meeting” (Cormier knew the purpose of the meeting but did not tell Thornton). 

07:05:42 – Hollander and his son, Aaron Hollander, arrive at the distributors. Hollander tells police that “Omar had a very angelic, innocent look on his face and was not admitting or denying anything” the entire time of the meeting.

The meeting lasted approximately 10 to 15 minutes. Thornton was shown video footage of him loading cases of beer into the trunk of Christy and Sean Quail’s car (East Windsor Police later obtained theft warrants for the arrest of both). Thornton and Cirigliano briefly leave the hearing to speak privately; Thornton returns and signs a letter of resignation. Cirigliano, Thornton, Hollander and Felder leave the office.

As they pass the kitchen where Thornton left his lunchbox prior to the meeting, Thornton tells the group that he wants to get a class of water. Felder follows him into the kitchen. Cirigliano and Hollander continue down the hallway. Hollander says he hears Felder yell, “Omar, you can’t!” and then hears a loud bang.

Hollander steps into an adjacent office and hears Cirigliano say, “Omar no! Omar no!” followed by another loud bang. Hollander, who was grazed by the bullet that killed Felder, continues down an adjacent hallway until he reaches another office.

07:25:15 – Security camera shows Thornton running from the office area into the warehouse area.

07:25:16 – Security camera shows Douglas Scruton dead on a forklift he was driving; Scruton’s foot falls on the accelerator, causing the forklift to crash into a wall and the tires to later catch fire. Thornton also shoots Victor James in that section of the warehouse, which is not depicted by the security camera; Thornton shoots Craig Pepin during this time, which is not depicted on camera. 

07:25:25 – Security camera shows Francis Fazio running toward the “Breakage Room” with Thornton following. Fazio heads toward the trash compactor, where William Ackerman is working.

07:25:29 – Thornton shoots Fazio and Ackerman three times.

07:25:38 – Steve Hollander makes first 911 call.

07:25:39 – Security camera shows Thornton entering the breakage room, where he walks past Aaron Hollander and proceeds to shoot Edwin Kennison in the shoulder. Hollander says that Thornton “was laughing” at the time. Kennison begins to run.

07:25:59 – First Manchester Police officers dispatched to the scene.

07:26:16 – Security camera shows Thornton chasing Kennison through the warehouse toward the employee entrance. Thornton chases Kennison out to the driveway, where Jerome Rosenstein passes on a golf cart. Thornton shoots Rosenstein three times, continues to chase Kennison.

07:26:27 – Security camera shows Thornton chasing Kennison east in the driveway back toward the building. Thornton shooting Kennison is not shown on camera, but witnesses say Kennison fell and pleaded with Thornton. Forensic evidence shows that Kennison was shot twice from behind.

While still in the parking lot, Vinicio Herran, another employee of the company, begins to yell at Thornton to put down the gun. Thornton walks past the main lobby entrance and returns inside the building by the employee entrance (police note that two more employees, Rob Hayes and David Zylerman, were hiding inside the lobby while Thornton was chasing Kennison through the parking lot, and that Thornton might have reentered the building through the lobby had it not been for Herran’s intervention).

After reentering the building, Thornton walks to the main office area, and into the office of Julie Klusek, who suffers from Multiple Sclerosis and was in a wheelchair. Klusek said that Thornton told her, “You’re in a wheelchair” as he walked past her (police also note that Aaron Hollander, who Thornton bypassed in the warehouse earlier, had developmental handicaps). Before he left her office, Klusek said that Thornton also said something to the affect of, “ Racists that work here.”

07:28:25 – First Manchester Police officers arrive on the scene.

Klusek watches Thornton walk toward the office’s reception area and look out a window. Klusek said she then heard Thornton say, “Police,” as though it were a question.

The lobby door locks when a person exits to the reception area. Klusek said she heard a gunshot and glass shattering (Thornton shot the glass out of the door to the main office area so he could reenter from the lobby, because a code was required to enter).

After leaving his lunchbox that contained a second loaded 9mm handgun in another office, Thornton enters Linda Davidson’s office and locks the door behind him.

0:7:32:28 to 07:42:21 – Thornton calls his mother three times from Davidson’s cell phone. Thornton’s mother, Lillie Holliday, tells police that Thornton told her that he had shot “five of the most racist ones.”

07:35:20 – First police squad enters the building.

07:55:09 – Thornton calls 911 and speaks with Connecticut State Police Trooper William Taylor for about four minutes. Thornton tells Taylor that, “I wish I could have got more of the people” and that “Manchester itself is a racist place.” Thornton tells Taylor that he “took it into my own hands and handled the problem” and to tell his family that he loved them. 

08:06:01 – With the office surrounded, police yell for Thornton to come out with his hands in the air. Thornton yells back in a nervous tone “…coming out…coming out,” although radio traffic drowns out some of his words. Police report a “muffled popping sound” coming from inside the office.

08:12:35 – Police enter Davidson’s office and find Thornton dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the back right side of his head. 

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