Workplace Murder of Nine During Failed Termination

Manchester, Connecticut – Omar Thornton, 34, walked into a room early Tuesday at the beverage distributorship where he worked in Manchester, Connecticut. Union and company officials played a video showing him stealing from a truck. He watched calmly without affect.

An employee of Hartford Distributors for two years and a driver for one, Thornton was given a choice of resigning or being fired, union and company officials said.
He signed a resignation paper, was escorted out of the room and toward the door. He asked for a drink of water, company CEO Ross Hollander told CNN. Thornton pulled out a handgun and began firing. Within minutes, the gunman and eight other people were dead, and two others were wounded, according to Manchester police.

A girlfriend of Thornton indicated he was a victim of racial harassment at the beverage center, the mother of the girlfriend told CNN. Thornton told his girlfriend he had reported to a company supervisor and a union representative about the harassment but they did nothing about it, Joanne Hannah said Tuesday.
Teamsters’ officials deny allegations that Thornton, who was black, snapped because of racial harassment.

Eight people were killed in various parts of the facility, Police Chief Marc Montminy said, and one shot may have been fired outside. “There were clearly some performance issues,” Montminy said. Warehouse vice president Steve Hollander, who was grazed in the head and arm, said Thornton was “as cold as ice” when he fired, killing two people near Hollander.

Warning Signs: According to Steven C. Millwee, a board certified security expert and one of the leading experts on workplace violence prevention and workplace murders, in the aftermath of such tragic events it is almost certain there were significant warning signs. “It is easy to point fingers and blame the victims of this horrific tragedy,” said Millwee.

Millwee identified the following four top warning signs from his top assessment tool, “SecurThreat – 260 Violence Warning Signs”:

1. A history of violence – “Most workplace violence does not just happen. It is the result of a growing rage within the worker who, in this instance decided he was going out with a bang by taking innocent bystanders with him. It will be likely we will learn that the attacker had a history of violence.
2. Threats of violence – “Threats can be direct (‘I’m going to kill you’), conditional (‘If you fire me, I’ll do my own firing with a gun’), or veiled. A veiled threat is designed to put the listener in fear, such as, ‘They better watch out, I just might go postal.”
3. History of rage at work – “One of the major warning signs is the amount of anger that a subject expresses at work.”
4. Intimidation to gain power and control at work – “Violent offenders often want to control the environment, management and coworkers. Intimidation sends the message, ‘don’t mess with me if you know what’s good for you.”

Preventing workplace violence is the key according to Millwee. He recommends, not just conducting a criminal background check when an employee is hired, but also rechecking employees no less than once a year. Training management and employees how to recognize the warning signs, much less termination strategies that restore the dignity of an employee is another critical prevention measure. Conducting threat assessments and threat interventions with high-risk employees was the last key, according to the expert to the experts. Millwee has trained over 10,000 managers and is involved in high-risk threat assessments a hundred times a year. Formerly with the FBI and the chief homicide detective for unsolved murders, this Athens, Georgia based expert has interviewed over two hundred workplace killers. (800) 445-8001. Millwee has a free video on his website that talks about the major warning signs and ways to prevent violence.

One in four violent crimes occur at work, while murder is the leading cause of death for women at work. It’s the third leading cause of death for men.

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