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A workplace shooting at Hartford Distributors, a local beer company in Manchester, Connecticut, has left nine dead and others injured as a disgruntled employee opened fire early Tuesday morning. The shooter has been identified as 34 year-old Omar Thornton, a truck driver for the beer and wine distribution company. Thornton was scheduled to face a company disciplinary hearing the day of the shooting.
According to the New York Times, Thornton fatally shot himself with his riffle as the police approached. The Times quotes union representative John Hollis, "He came in to meet with the company and after that, all hell broke loose. He pulled the gun and ran through the warehouse." There have been no official reports released regarding the number of people wounded in the workplace shooting spree. Employees present in the building at the time of the shooting were moved to another building by the time the police arrived on the scene.
In the case of workplace violence, a crime has been committed, but there is always more to the story than that. The employer can be held responsible for workplace violence, especially in cases where the actual culprit has died. For those families struggling with the sudden loss of their loved ones, they may try to seek compensation from the company. The problems employers face when it comes to violence in the workplace are plenty. For instance, if an employer is overly cautious when there are warning signs with a particular employee, then they are forced to deal with issues on the other end of the legal spectrum -- possible defamation or wrongful termination charges from the employee. In the case of the Hartford Distributors shootings, the families of the victims would need to show that Hartford Distributor's knew or should have known of the violent nature of Omar Thornton and did nothing to stop it.
Whether an employee will come to work with a gun and go on a shooting spree is an almost impossible guess to make. ABC News adds some interesting details to this case: although it is unclear whether the shootings happened before or after the scheduled disciplinary meeting, Thornton was going to be given the option to quit or be terminated for stealing beer from the company. The mother of Omar Thornton's girlfriend at the time of the shootings stated that Thornton had "complained of racial harassment for a long time." Whether the pending termination coupled with claims of racial harassment served as the motive behind Thorntons' actions will be left for investigators to determine.