''I Wish I Could Have Killed More People'' | Omar Thornton

(Omar Thornton on the morning of the 3rd of August 2010. Picture credit: Daily Mail)

As you may know, I covered another mass shooting case (carried out by a female perpetrator: Jennifer San Marco) last week here on my blog but another case was brought to my attention by a subscriber which I think may be of interest. 

This case which I'm going to be sharing with you in this post is another tragic event that took place in the USA (Manchester, Connecticut to be precise) and is the deadliest workplace shooting in Connecticut history. (and the second deadliest shooting in the state after Sandy Hook). I'm talking about the horrific events that unfolded at Hartford Distributors (a popular and successful wholesale distributor of wine and Budweiser beer) on the morning of Tuesday the 3rd of August 2010. 

In this day and age it's hard to find companies who do not have a high staff turn over but Hartford Distributors was different, the company was founded in 1944 and was later purchased and taken over by the Hollander family in the 1960s. The company treated their staff like family and not just a team of employees. When you went to Hartford Distributors and you did your job to the best of your ability, that effort was rewarded and you basically had a job for the long haul. 

Back in 2010 before the 3rd of August, if you had walked into Hartford Distributors you would have seen quite a number of staff of all ages but quite a lot of older members of the team who had worked there for 20 to 30 years. Everybody knew each other, everybody knew each others families, it was like a very close knit community and it wasn't unusual for employees to work there right up to their retirement. There was a great relationship between the staff and the Hollander family which remains to this day and even more so since the horrific events of August 2010. 

I wanted to start first of all just talking a little bit about the company just to give you a flavour of the kind of place it is and was before I move into more of the story. So you know it was a respectful place with committed employees who treated their staff fairly and was a successful wholesaler of Budweiser products, so let's move on to the rest of the story. 

(Hartford Distributors. Picture credit: Fairfield Citizen)

The picture you see at the beginning of this post is a sinister, chilling one if you know the story behind it. On the surface it looks like a man in his place of employment just about to take his lunch break or go somewhere. The reality is, the individual in the capture from a CCTV camera is 34 year old Omar Thornton, carrying a lunch bag with loaded weapons with an intent to murder his boss and fellow colleagues at Hartford Distributors. 

At 34, Omar was considered one of the younger members of the team and also still the new guy. He'd been a driver at the company for 2 years so to the people who'd been there for decades he was still seen as a young pup but wasn't treated any differently (according to staff and witnesses who were not related to Omar. His girlfriend, family and Omar himself would say differently but I will talk more about this later). 

Omar didn't have any children but he was involved in a long term relationship with a woman named Kristi Hannah. To those that knew him, he was described as an easy-going guy, quite quiet and had a number of money problems but no real scandals or previous trouble with the law except for the usual parking tickets and fines. 

In the 2 years leading up to the 3rd of August 2010, Omar had often complained to his girlfriend and family about work. According to him, some of the staff and especially the management were a bunch of racists especially towards himself and he claimed to be the only African-American working at the company. The majority of the staff at Hartford Distributors were white male.

Omar had allegedly shown his girlfriend pictures of racist graffiti that had been drawn in the male toilets at work as well as a disturbing drawing of a black man being hung in ref to Lynching. His girlfriend also claimed that she had been on the phone with him one day when he held the phone up for her to hear some of the management staff making racists comments and laughing. 

Despite Omar's allegations of racism in the workplace, he never reported these incidences or took the matter further. Those of us who have been bullied or singled out in our place of employment can understand maybe why he didn't come forward and say something if these incidences did indeed happen. He could have stayed quiet because he was scared of losing his job? maybe he felt intimidated because his colleagues were older than him? Who knows? but his family and girlfriend claim that he was very unhappy and often spoke of being singled out at work. 

(Omar Thornton. Picture credit: Murderpedia)

Although Omar was unhappy in his job and claimed there was racism, he continued to work there and continued to help himself to cases of Budweiser which he either drank himself or sold to other people outside of work. The staff at Hartford Distributors soon caught on to this and decided to investigate Omar to see where all the missing beer was going, there was also missing beer kegs too. 

So a quiet investigation into Omar's conduct at work was launched and sure as fate, he was caught on camera for all to see, stealing cases of Budwesier beer. 

I just want to make clear here that just because someone has been engaging in theft in the workplace it doesn't mean that they have not been the victim of racism, however it does show that they are dishonest and have the capability to try and cover their tracks. I have no doubt that if the situation had been different and no CCTV footage had been recorded of Omar actively stealing, he would have claimed that the company had made the whole thing up because they were racists. With the proof of the theft on tape, he didn't have a leg to stand on. 

Omar knew the net was closing in and his days were numbered in his role at Hartford Distributors. When he got the notification that he was to attend a private meeting 7am on Tuesday morning (3rd of August 2010), he knew the game was up. Instead of packing his usual sandwiches in his lunch bag, he put in 2 Ruger SR9s and headed off to work. It's unclear whether he was giving the company some sort of ultimatum, ie: if you fire me I'll kill you or if you don't fire me the guns will stay in the bag? who knows?

What we do know is that Omar, dressed in shorts and a Rocky shirt attended this small meeting which lasted 30 minutes with his boss and some other people which included the grandson of the company's owner, Steve Hollander (50) along with HDI Drivers rep Bryan Cirigliano (51).

Omar was shown the footage of him stealing the beer and was quiet, he didn't deny the allegations or attempt to fight his corner, he seemed to be quiet, unemotional and unbothered. Finally, he was given the option to resign or to be fired. He chose to resign and signed the papers. After Omar put down the pen, there was no outburst, no expression of anger he just turned his back saying he was going to get some water and in a blink of an eye, he pulled out one of the guns and started firing. He shot dead two of the people nearest to him (a stray bullet injured Steve Hollander, he was injured but survived) before making is way out of the office. 

Calmly and collectively he made his way around the building and into the warehouse just shooting at people, some were shot at point blank range to the head. He did this with no expression, no words, almost like a robot. He was shooting indiscriminately still carrying his lunch bag and when one gun ran out of ammo he threw it on the floor and started using the other one. One witness saw him chasing a female member of staff and trying to shoot her. Anyone and anything that moved seemed to be a target for Omar Thornton in that moment. 

 He even went out into the parking lot after people before returning back inside the building to continue the rampage. The whole ordeal lasted just minutes but seemed like hours. 

Finally for whatever reason he decided to stop shooting and managed to find an empty office in the building where he locked himself in and made a phone call to his mother. He told her he loved her and that he ''shot the racists''

The final phone call he made was to 911, again there was no tears, no sense of guilt and he spoke again of how badly he had been treated and the alleged racism but spoke nothing of being caught stealing. It seemed that even though he was moments from his own death, he was still making excuses and trying to paint himself in a certain light. 

He refused to come out of the office and said ''I wish I could have killed more people'' 

Omar Thornton took his own life in that office and eventually police officers found him and the other employees who were hiding elsewhere in the building along with the people who had been murdered. 

Two people (one of them being Steve Hollander) were rushed to hospital but luckily they survived, 8 people sadly died. 

Up until 2012 when the horrific events of Sandy Hook occurred, this horrific case was the deadliest shooting to have occurred in the state of Connecticut. 

After the shootings the families of both the victims and Omar Thornton spoke out publicly about what they believed were Omar's motive for the murders. The victim's families made it clear that their loved ones were in no way. shape or form racists but Omar's family had a different take on things, they felt that Omar had been a good guy pushed to the edge. 

Not long after the murders, Omar's mother set up a website in tribute to her son and asked for donations to help fight racism in the workplace. When this caused shock and outrage, she couldn't understand why the victims families and survivors were upset. Her view was that Omar was her ''baby'' and that she should be able to pay tribute to her son any way that she wanted. 

The website was soon reported, investigated and removed. 

A memorial was created in tribute to the victims on the Hartford Distribution site. 8 Stainless steel pillars dedicated to each of the victims and dedicated workers now stand as a place for loved ones and friends to pay their respects. At the top of each pillar is a secret compartment that has been sealed shut. These compartments were for loved ones to leave little letters, gifts or whatever they wanted for their loved one before being permanently closed. 

Memorial services in Connecticut occur every 3rd of August and last year marked 11 years since the shootings, a day that so many could never forget.

 So what was the real reason for Omar Thornton's crimes? Was he really pushed to the edge after enduring racism or was he just making excuses because he knew the company had caught on to him stealing? He shot people he had no problems with and was even seen chasing a woman. Anybody seemed to be a target and if things were so bad at work why didn't he leave or take the matter further? If he did have the evidence of racist abuse (if we are to believe his girlfriend and family) why didn't he go to an employment lawyer and put a claim in? If what he alleged was proven he could have been awarded damages. None of this was put any further. 

As for his mother, girlfriend and family, nobody wants to accept and believe that their loved one is a cold blooded killer. Omar planned the killings, he came to work with guns, he shot people close up and carried on and on without a care. All he cared about was himself and clearly expressed that on the phone to the 911 operator. 

He killed fathers and grandfathers that day, so many families were devastated. A thorough investigation into the allegations of racism was conducted. Other employees from all different backgrounds were privately interviewed in confidence and no evidence of racism was found. It also seems ridiculous that a company who he claimed was racist would hire him and other people from different backgrounds if things were as he claimed they were. Maybe Omar made the whole thing up because he didn't want his family to know that he was stealing from work? 

Whatever the case people will have their own thoughts about this (comments welcomed below). No decent minded person condones racism of any kind especially in a working environment but the fact remains that Omar was proven to be stealing and was fired on that reason. He may have been a nice, quiet guy in the past and the bills may have mounted up causing him to become depressed and desperate but stealing from work and then going on to murder your colleagues is unbelievable and evil. 

I'd like to take a moment to remember the victims, the hardworking men of Hartford Distributors, the survivors and their families.

Francis Fazio Jr (57)

Douglas Scruton (56)

Edwin Kennison (49)

William Ackerman (51)

Bryan Cirigliano (51)

Craig Peppin (60)

Louis Felder (50)

Victor James (61)

May they rest in peace. 

(Hartford Distribution Memorial. Picture credit: ctmonuments.net)

Further Reading & Sources:

Omar Thornton: Article | CBS News

Hartford Distribution Shooting| Article | New York Times

Omar Thornton: Article | ABC News

Omar Thornton: Article | The Hartford Courant

Hartford Distribution: Article | Capital Gazette

Hartford Distribution Shooting | Wikipedia

Sandy Hook School Shooting | Wikipedia

USA Mass Shootings Stats 1982 - 2021

Manchester Police Report On HDI Shootings

Hartford Dirstribution Shootings | 911 Calls (Graphic)

Thank you to Shilo for requesting this case and thank you for checking out my latest post. I hope you will join me in the next one and I hope to see you elsewhere on my socials x


  1. I remember this day vividly and reading about it in such detail is heartbreaking. I didn't work but a few blocks away from HDI and was at work the day this happened.

    I still remember watching the news as it became available on our computers via local news sources. And my manager saying that no one could leave the building until further notice.

    My heart goes out to the families that lost loved ones that day and to every family that has lost loved one to senseless and random acts of violence.

    Thank you so much for covering this story about Omar Thornton and the terrifying events that took place at HDI.

    As always this story as all your stories was brilliantly written, carefully researched and truly gripping and intense.

    Thank You Again... 🙏🏼❤

    1. Thank you so much for commenting, checking out the post and of course for requesting this case. It must have been quite the traumatic experience to go through. To have something like that happen so close and to have briefly met some of the workers from HDI too

  2. These ambush type killings hit me at the core. Innocent people, cornered and trapped. Completely unaware and taken off guard. Thanks for posting the names of the people that lost their lives that day. I made sure to say each name out loud and bow my head each time.
    Well done