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Nine dead in Connecticut shooting rampage

A warehouse driver has killed nine people, including himself, and wounded others in a US shooting rampage.

Omar S Thornton (34) reportedly entered the warehouse in Manchester, Connecticut, and fired at staff with a .223 calibre semi-automatic rifle.

The driver had worked at the beer distributor in Manchester for a couple of years and had been called in for a disciplinary hearing, said John Hollis, of the Connecticut Teamsters labour union. Mr Hollis, who was with company officials at the scene of the shooting, would not say why the driver was being disciplined but he had been asked to resign from his job. The authorities said Thornton was suspected of stealing from the business.

Mr Hollis told the New York Times he had watched as “all hell broke loose”.

“He pulled the gun and ran through the warehouse.”

About 50 to 70 people were in the warehouse during a shift change when the gunman opened fire around 7am, said Brett Hollander, director of marketing at Hartford Distributors.

There were reports that workers had hid under desks as bullets raked the premises, with at least two being shot dead as they tried to escape the building.

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Police spokesman Ficara Sandy said: “The shooter was an employee there and we have many victims that were shot.”

Asked about the fatalities, he replied: “Probably up to about eight but nothing's been confirmed.”

Mr Sandy confirmed the gunman shot himself, dismissing earlier reports that he had been shot by police.

Officials said police did not open fire.

A woman who knows the driver says he had complained of racial harassment at work. Joanne Hannah says her daughter dated Omar Thornton for the past eight years.

She says her daughter had no indication he planned anything violent yesterday morning after he was asked to resign from Hartford Distributors and refused.

Adding to the chaos was a fire at the warehouse, about 10 miles east of Hartford, that was put out.

Mr Hollander, whose family owns the distributor, said he did not know the driver well.

At least one person died at Hartford Hospital, spokeswoman Michaela Donnelly said. Another victim taken there was in critical condition, and one was in fair condition, she said.

Police officers from numerous agencies and police and fire vehicles surrounded the warehouse, on a tree-lined road in an industrial park just west of a shopping centre.