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Disgruntled employee 'killed nine'

A US warehouse driver who was allegedly caught on videotape stealing beer from the Connecticut distributorship where he worked has gone on a shooting rampage, killing eight people before committing suicide, authorities said.

The gunman, identified by a company executive as Omar Thornton, had complained of racial harassment and said he found a picture of a noose and a racial epithet written on a bathroom wall, the mother of his girlfriend said.

Her daughter told her that Thornton's supervisors had not responded to his complaints, but a union official said Thornton had not filed a complaint of racism to the union or any government agency.

Thornton had been caught on videotape stealing beer from Hartford Distributors and was supposed to meet with company officials when the shootings began, union official Christopher Roos said.

"It's got nothing to do with race," Mr Roos said. "This is a disgruntled employee who shot a bunch of people."

James Battaglio, a spokesman for the families who own the distributorship, said he had no immediate information about the allegations of racial harassment.

Thornton's girlfriend had been with him the night before the rampage and had no indication he was planning it, said her mother, Joanne Hannah.

About 50 to 70 people were in the warehouse about 10 miles east of Hartford during a shift change when the gunman opened fire, said Brett Hollander, whose family owns the distributorship.

At least two people were wounded, one critically, police said, but both were expected to survive.

The rampage was the nation's deadliest since 13 people were fatally shot at Fort Hood, Texas, last November. A military psychiatrist is charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder in that case.

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