Is racism at heart of Connecticut shooting? Answer still unclear.
The Connecticut shooting Tuesday, in which nine people died at Hartford Distributors – including the suspected shooter – comes at a time of heightened racial tension in the US.
(Page 2 of 2)
"Everyone of [the victims] was a person I heard Omar mention," Thornton's girlfriend, Kristi Hannah, told the New York Daily News. "He didn't go around randomly shooting people. He knew these were the people who harassed him."Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Thornton, a black man, "was very sensitive about his race," Ms. Hannah said.
"If you called him a n----r, he would go off," she said. "But he kept it inside. He kept it all bottled up."
The facts on workplace violence
Race, however, is often not an issue in workplace violence. Six of 10 incidents of workplace violence involved blacks and whites victimizing members of their own race, according to a 1999 Bureau of Labor Statistics study.
Moreover, blacks are not disproportionately more likely to murder a coworker than people of other races. Between 1997 and 2008, blacks committed 17 percent of the 744 incidents of workplace coworker murder – a number that is roughly in line with blacks' percentage of the US population (13 percent).
Although the US has seen a spate of mass killings in the past two years, workplace homicides have slid during the past decade, falling by more than half since the 1990s – from 1,080 in 1994 to 517 in 2008, according to BLS.
While Thornton may or may not have had a legitimate complaint about racial harassment in the workplace, other facts, including that he committed suicide, point to a more standard profile of a workplace shooter, says Kennedy, the criminologist.
"People who do these kinds of things don't wake up that morning and decide to do it," he says. "They tend to be grievance collectors who remember every slight and … they tend to externalize blame. Whatever happens is not their fault, and they tend to perceive a profound sense of injustice."
- Report: alleged Hartford Distributors shooter claimed racial harassment
- Orlando shooting comes as trend in workplace violence drops
- Shootings, murder-suicide raise broader question: Is violence linked to recession?