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US warehouse gunman 'cold as ice'

A driver caught stealing beer from his warehouse in the United States agreed to resign then went on a shooting rampage, killing eight people and wounding two before committing suicide.

Omar Thornton, 34, pulled out a handgun after a disciplinary hearing in which he had been offered the chance to resign or be sacked from his firm in Manchester, Connecticut.

At the disciplinary hearing, Thornton was shown video evidence of the thefts and he calmly agreed to leave, company vice president Steve Hollander said. "Then he went out on this rampage," he said. "He was cool and calm. He didn't yell. He was cold as ice."

He went on: "He didn't protest when we were meeting with him to show him the video of him stealing. He didn't contest it. He didn't complain. He didn't argue. He didn't admit or deny anything. He just agreed to resign. And then he just unexplainably pulled out his gun and started blasting."

Mr Hollander said he thought Thornton had guns stashed in his lunch box. The executive said two people standing near him were shot in the head and killed, but he was only grazed in the jaw and the arm.

About 50 to 70 people were in the Hartford Distributors warehouse about 10 miles east of Hartford during a shift change when the gunman opened fire, said Brett Hollander, Steve Hollander's cousin and a member of the family that owns the distributorship.

The shooting was over in a matter of minutes. The victims were found all over the complex, and authorities said they did not know if Thornton fired randomly or targeted specific co-workers.

After shooting his co-workers, Thornton called his mother, said Joanne Hannah, the mother of Thornton's girlfriend. "He wanted to say goodbye and that he loved everybody," she said.

Thornton was alive when police arrived but killed himself before officers got to him, Manchester police chief Marc Montminy said.

Steve Hollander said Thornton killed "many good people for absolutely no reason at all, people who've never said an unkind word to him. ... He was just shooting at anyone that was near him and just cruelty beyond cruelty". Among the dead was Bryan Cirigliano, 51, president of Teamsters 1035, according to the union, who had been Thornton's representative at the disciplinary hearing, the union said.

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