Manchester, Conn. (WTNH) - It was a somber ceremony in Manchester as hundreds came together to mark the one year anniversary of Connecticut's deadliest incident of workplace violence.
A year after the ugliness of the Manchester Massacre, there is peace and beauty in a memorial next to Hartford Distributors Inc.
"Today is a day when we want to remember and memorialize these people in a place where the families and the family of Hartford Distributors can come and have a serene setting," said Ross Hollander, HDI President.
It was a not serene at all day one year ago that truck driver Omar Thornton was called in early and shown surveillance video of him stealing beer off his truck and selling it on the side. He agreed to resign, but on the way out the door, he pulled out a gun and started shooting. He killed 8 co-workers before he shot and killed himself. Those 8 men are now memorialized in the 8 steel pillars of the memorial garden next to the beer distributor. Each name evokes pictures and memories, for instance Bryan Cirigliano, the Teamster Union President.
"He was the first encounter with Thornton. He fought Omar Thornton and allowed 16 people to escape from the room, including a woman in a wheelchair and he was subsequently shot in the face," said Walter Edwards II, Cirigliano's friend.
Hundreds of friends, relatives and coworkers came to remember the fallen and their families each released a white dove as part of the somber ceremony.
"It doesn't hurt a little less, it hurts a little more. With time, I'm sure the healing process will begin, but for now it still does hurt," Edwards noted.
"And the families have handled the situation with grace and dignity. We couldn't be more proud of every single one of them," Hollander said.
They are now bound together by the tragedy, just as the 8 pillars are bound together with a ribbon of steel across the top. And the community came together to raise more than 65 thousand dollars to pay for the memorial. It was personalized even more by the families today. They could place mementoes in the top section of each pillar.
"About a third of the top has a small opening that will be forever sealed once they put in their personal items, notes and whatnot, like a time capsule," said memorial architect, Rick Lawrence.
Whatever does not get spent on the memorial goes to the fund dedicated to supporting the families of the victims.
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