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911 Tape in Conn. Shooting Highlights Racial Gap

A woman hiding under her desk tells an emergency dispatcher that a co-worker is in the midst of a shooting spree. The dispatcher presses for any information about the man.

"I don't know anything," the woman says, according to a 911 tape released Wednesday. "He's a tall black guy. He's like the only black guy that works here."

Family and friends say Omar Thornton was only too painfully aware of that distinction, as he claimed he was subjected to racial discrimination while working as a union driver at Hartford Distributors in Manchester.

Authorities say they still do not know what made Thornton snap - to pack two .9 mm pistols in his lunch box and a shotgun in his car before he headed to work Tuesday for a meeting with his union representative and supervisors to discuss his continued employment in what his girlfriend said was once his dream job.

He had been caught stealing beer, union and company officials said, and quietly agreed to resign after he saw the videotape. But then he went on a rampage, killing eight co-workers - some as they ran for cover, others as they warned people to run - and injuring two others before committing suicide.

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Other 911 tapes released reveal a frantic scene in the minutes after Thornton began his shooting rampage, reports CBS News correspondent Ben Tracy.

"Somebody got shot. I got shot. We need the cops. Omar Thorton's shooting people!" one victim told emergency responders.

One person called from a storage closet, imploring authorities to "please help me."

Company officials have denied to The Associated Press there was any racial discrimination, and the union said Thornton never filed a formal complaint. The president of the family-owned company planned a news conference for Thursday afternoon.

Thornton's girlfriend of eight years, Kristi Hannah, told the AP on Wednesday she knew something was wrong when he left for work a day earlier.

"He just kept having this dazed, confused look on his face, and I never saw him like that before," she said. "I could tell something was bothering him. I asked him what was wrong a bunch of times and he said nothing was wrong with him. ... That's why he gave me a long hug and kiss before he left."

Hannah said Thornton, 34, had complained of racial harassment to her months ago and had shared with her evidence of it: photos of racist graffiti and a surreptitiously monitored conversation allegedly involving company managers.

Union and company officials say Thornton never complained of harassment and there have never been reports of racial discrimination at the company.

A union official described Thornton as a dissatisfied worker whose first targets were the three people in his disciplinary meeting: Steve Hollander, 50, a member of the family that owns the company, who was shot twice but survived; Bryan Cirigliano, 51, president of Teamsters 1035 and Thornton's representative at the hearing; and Louis Felder, 50, who news reports described as the company's operations director.

Other victims were Doug Scruton, 56; Bill Ackerman, 51; Francis Fazio Jr., 57; Edwin Kennison, 49; Craig Pepin, 60; and Victor James, 60. Jerome Rosenstein, 77, was wounded and was in serious condition Wednesday at Hartford Hospital.

Friends and family of those who died said they couldn't imagine their loved ones discriminating against Thornton.

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