911 calls reveal horror as US gunman ran down victims

The US man who shot dead eight people after being sacked from a beer depot ran after his victims as they hid in offices, closets and the parking lot, emergency police calls revealed.

A total of 20 calls were made to the 911 number from terrified workers at Hartford Distributors in the town of Manchester, Connecticut, as Omar Thornton, 34, went on the rampage Tuesday.

"I got shot," the company's executive, Steve Hollander, tells police from an office where he had been shot in the head.

Police guard the entrance to Hartford Distributors following a shooting in Manchester, Connecticut.

"I see him running now. There?s people running. He?s running away right now. He?s shooting at somebody else. He?s still shooting. He?s shooting at a girl! He?s still running after people," said Hollander, who survived with minor wounds.

"He's chasing people out in the parking lot."

Armed with two .9 mm handguns, Thornton killed eight people before turning a gun on himself.

Police say Thornton, a warehouse driver, had gone to the depot to face his bosses and union officials over allegations he'd been stealing alcohol. He was sacked at the meeting.

However, the shooting was apparently premeditated and carefully prepared since even before the meeting Thornton had brought the two pistols into the facility hidden in a lunchbox.

A shotgun was also found in his car, but was not used, Manchester police told a news conference.

"At the conclusion of the meeting, he went back in the kitchen area and asked for a drink of water and we believe at that point he got the lunch box with the guns and took it out," a Manchester police officer told a news conference.

Thornton's first two victims were the employees who'd been assigned to escort him out of the building. "They were both killed by him," the police officer said.

According to the chronology of the 911 calls, he then ran inside and outside of the building seeking prey.

The calls reflected occasional panic, but more helplessness and terror.

"Hurry up please," one victim pleaded in a faint voice after being shot.

Another woman said she was calling from a paper closet where she had hidden. Asked by police if the door was locked, she said no.

"I'm hiding in the dark," she says.

"Stay down where you are and hold on one second," the police tell her.

"Oh my God," she replies, whimpering. "Help me, please," she repeats.

"Ma'am, we are on the way, please stay down, stay low all right?" the police reply.

"Yes," she replies in a weak voice.

A man calls to say he is locked into an office with his son, but that he has been shot.

"Stay in there and stay down, OK? Have your son keep an eye on you, OK? If you start to become less awake or anything you have him call us right now, we're trying to get you," the 911 operators says.

The victim says: "I know for a fact two people are dead in here. Inside the building, not in my office but in the hallway, they were both shot right in the head."

Hartford Distributors is the biggest Budweiser distributor in Connecticut, with some 400 employees.

Many US states have loose gun ownership laws and massacres in public places are a regular occurrence.

In June, a man involved in a domestic dispute opened fire in a Miami area restaurant, killing four women and wounding three others before taking his own life.

In early January an angry employee at a Missouri power plant shot dead three people and wounded five others, before killing himself. The bloodshed was believed to have been triggered by a dispute over his pension funds.

source AFP

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