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Disgruntled worker kills colleagues in beer warehouse shooting

Nine people were killed in the US state of Connecticut on Tuesday when a disgruntled beer warehouse employee opened fire on his co-workers before shooting himself.

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AFP - A disgruntled employee went on a shooting rampage Tuesday at a beer distribution firm in Connecticut, killing eight co-workers before turning the gun on himself, police and officials said.

Officers were called to the scene at Hartford Distributors in Manchester, Connecticut shortly after 7:30 am (1130 GMT) at the time of a shift change when up to 40 people were inside.

"There were nine individuals, including the suspect, who were killed during the shooting," said a police statement. "We are presently in the process of trying to identify the victims and make notifications to family members."

The shooter, who local media reports said had been called in by managers for a disciplinary hearing, was found dead some 40 minutes later after shooting a total of 10 people then himself.

Two wounded were transported to a local hospital and "expected to survive," the police statement said.

The main hospital in the nearby state capital Hartford said it had received three victims of the shooting, one dead, one critical and the third in a stable condition.

The shooter was named by the local Hartford Courant newspaper as Omar Thornton, a 34-year-old driver for the firm.

Thornton was described by a Teamsters union official quoted by the paper as a recent hire with a "disciplinary problem.

"The union was bringing him in to meet with the company to remedy the problem," said Hollis. "He started shooting."

Other unconfirmed reports from family members suggested Thornton, who is black, had complained about being racially harassed at work and that his superiors had done nothing about it.

The Hartford Courtand quotes sources as saying Thornton had used a .223 caliber semiautomatic rifle for his shooting spree and that two people had been shot outside the building and five inside, where he was later found.

Connecticut Governor Jodi Rell issued a poignant statement of condolence to the victims.

"Our prayers go out to the employees and families of the victims. In the wake of this tragedy we are all left asking the same questions. How could someone do this? Why did they do this?

"It was a senseless act of violence that has left us all shaken and reminds us just how precious and fragile life truly is."

Many US states have loose gun ownership laws, but the incident left residents of the small town of Manchester just outside the state capital of Hartford in shock.

The wounded victims in a stable condition was said to be Steven Hollander, whose family owns Hartford distributors, the biggest Budweiser distributor in Connecticut with some 400 employees.

"Everyone is devastated by this tragic and senseless act," Jim Bataglio, a spokesman for the Hollander family, was quoted as saying in the Hartford Courant.

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