The Conversation

What does a man who just killed eight people sound like?

If you missed our broadcasts, or any other for that matter, you can find out here.

As we learned Thursday, Omar Thornton called State Police after he killed eight co-workers Tuesday at Hartford Distributors.  We wonder what on earth could possess someone to go to such an extreme, and now I wonder what made him call 9-1-1 and have a controlled conversation with a state trooper.

The New York Times compared the call to “a spoken suicide note.”

If you choose to listen to this conversation, make sure you listen to both sides of it.  The killer and the cop.

On the receiving end was William Taylor, a veteran trooper who just happened to pick up the phone.  He did a masterful, if ultimately unsuccessful, job of trying to talk Thornton into surrendering.

A depressing, yet illuminating 4-minutes and 11-seconds of conversation.

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About Gerry

I've been covering Connecticut news and sports since 1974. I know, I don't look that old.
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13 Responses to The Conversation

  1. I have heard this conversation at least six times. Each time I am trying hard to figure out why he would be so cruel to call 9-1-1 and tell them who he is, that he is the shooter, that he has killed people, and that he is somewhere in the back in the building. He didn’t even sound remorseful at all!

    You are right about the trooper. He sounded so calm and in control of himself. He really didn’t want for anybody else being killed, including the shooter. He even said so many times. He told the shooter (I’m sorry I will not call the shooter by his name, I don’t want to give him that satisfaction, even though he has killed himself), to relax, and the shooter even said he was relaxed! What gall of him!! He killed eight people, wounded at least two, one critical.

    I still haven’t figured out what made this thing do what he did to others. He had no right to do what he did.

  2. Cat says:

    I listened and what I heard was a man who was quite calm speaking with the officer(who did call Omar by his first name several times). I don’t feel Mr. Thornton called 911 to brag about these shootings he had just done. For me, I heard a man who just may have felt it was his last chance to get someone to listen to him.
    His girlfriend said there has been racist remarks and threats made to Mr. Thornton and nothing was ever done. If this is true and pictures are proven to exist, then I think Mr. Hollander and the rest have some explaining to do.
    Please don’t get me wrong, I am not suggesting what Mr Thornton did is justified in any way, killing was not the correct answer here.
    As I watched Mr. Hollander yesterday afternoon speak of the victims, I must say I was surprised when he came to speaking of Mr. Thornton, suddenly it sounded like this man did not matter(Omar) and he (Mr. Hollander) was doing his best to tell you how unstable this man was, yet what a wonderful company he was running, clearly trying to convince everyone watching, that there was never anyone picking on Mr. Thornton and that Omar never put in a complaint about how he was being treated. None of us really knows what went on behind those doors of HDI. Mr. Hollander said “we are a close knit group here”, or something like that. I believe he said there were 100+ working there, that is a very small group of people. We have all heard and seen just what can go on in the place of work, the mutters, the looks and so on. We also know when push comes to shove, in the end ,people are concerned with saving their own behinds, especially when their jobs are at stake. I doubt you will find anyone in the future saying Mr. Thornton was correct when he said ” there were others who were also not being treated fair”.
    It appears Mr. Thornton gave much thought to what he did yesterday, but listening to his voice, I feel it was a man who was troubled for a very long time, yet had the composure to get his final message across to anyone now who would listen.
    He was the shooter, yet also a victim, he too had family sitting there watching and listening to the words of Mr. Hollander…
    I am a true believer that for a person to take his own life, they fear something far more than death.
    Mr. Thornton needs only to answer to one man, as we all will one day.
    My heart and prayers go out to all involved in this terrible tragedy.

  3. Mary says:

    Honestly I think justice was served when he took his own life, why should we pay to house and feed him so he can sit in jail for who knows how long, appeal after appeal. I can’t say I could have tolerated the condictions he was working in, if in fact they were true, but NEVER does that justify killing. It makes me sick reading the timeline of events that occured that day. My heart goes out to all the families who have lost loved ones.

  4. Steve says:

    Geez, Gerry! Your way with words beats mine. I was thinking “misplaced”, “bizarre”, & “beyond comprehension” to Cat’s comments. Not “thoughtful”.

    • Gerry says:

      Steve, I knew Cat’s comment would be controversial. But it’s certainly worth discussing. We’ll never really know what Thornton was thinking.

  5. Cat says:

    Steve, this is a board of opinion,
    I spoke how I felt at what I heard, just as you are doing.
    I said what Mr. Thornton did was indeed terrible and did not condone his actions.
    If you expected me to be judge and jury with what he did, as you seem to be doing, I am sorry to disappoint you Steve.
    Gerry, I have read many of Mr.Haar’s articles in the past, he does indeed at times become very one sided.
    I also do not know of the Hollanders, but I do know, contributing to many organizations and other charities, does not make a company a wonderful haven to be in.
    There is another company here in Ct that contributes to everything under the sun, yet treats the workers like second class citizens.
    For the record, I am not implying HDI is doing this or has ever done this.
    I gave my opinion and I’m sure there will be many more.
    I stand by what I said, like it or not.

    • Gerry says:

      Cat, your thoughts are always welcome here. I knew your comment would spark debate.

    • Lori says:

      I also agree that this was a thoughtful, while polarizing comment Cat. I pray for all the victims as they and we attempt to work through this senseless tragedy. I also pray that the truth will prevail.

  6. Linda says:

    I’ve been waiting for all the facts to come out concerning this tragedy. Each day a new detail emerges and I’m sure there will be more to come. I did not come away with the same feelings as Cat about the 911 call or Mr. Hollander’s press conference. I don’t know how being caught on video stealing from a company and selling to third parties is considered racist. Sometimes when people get caught doing something wrong, they need to blame it on something other than themselves. I would like to hear from some of the other minorities in the company before forming an opinion about the company. I hope that the allocations are not true. If someone(s) did harass Mr. Thornton, shame on them. But let the families and employees mourn their losses before rumors and speculation run rampant.

  7. Celeborn says:

    From my point of view it is virtually impossible to comprehend what goes on in the mind of someone who takes the life of another human being. To go off in a rampage and kill eight people – for any reason – is so far out of how my world is put together that I can’t even wrap my brain around the idea. Listening to the conversation between Mr. Thornton and Trooper Taylor doesn’t give much of a clue, other than to illustrate that Mr. Thornton felt that his actions were somehow justified.

    For someone to act out in this manner requires an almost total disconnect with one’s own humanity – and in listening to Mr. Thornton on the 911 call one get’s the sense that there is almost nothing there . . . no feeling, no awareness of the magnitude of his actions or their impact. How does one become so insensitive to life? How does one become so inured as to lack empathy for the incredible suffering he caused those who were injured, and those who were deprived of a husband, father, brother, best friend . . . ? ? ?

    I don’t know that I ever want to understand the answer to that question.

    The other side of the conversation illustrated the incredible training and professionalism of the men and women who wear the uniform of the Connecticut State Police. My hat is off to Trooper Taylor and the other men and women who put their lives on the line and use their training to protect the public from those who through mental defect or just pure evil place the rest of us at risk.

    CT

  8. There’s a lot still to be learned about this. But at this point I’ll say this: Mr. Hollander’s actions and behavior, his philanthropy and tolerance, speak for themselves. As do Mr. Thornton’s actions and behavior. No remorse. No apparent feelings about what he did. Perhaps it’s a rush to judgement, but the killer sure sounds, on that tape at least, like a typical psychopath to me.

    Great job by the police officer. He did everything right.

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