Conn. beer plant reopens 8 days after killings

Hartford Distributors, Inc., is seen here in Manchester, Conn., Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2010. Omar S. Thornton, a driver for Hartford Distributors, killed eight people, plus himself at the beer distribution company in Connecticut Tuesday morning. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

August 11, 2010 4:09:17 AM PDT
Teamsters Local 1035 secretary-treasurer and principal officer Chris Roos said the delivery-truck drivers want to return to work to get past the carnage caused by Omar Thornton, who shot and killed eight employees before killing himself. "They want to get back to work because they don't want this guy to beat them," Roos said. Hartford Distributors President Ross Hollander said "the overwhelming number of our employees have expressed a desire to get back to work and deliver beer." "We're going to meet on the driveway and attack the building together," Hollander said. "We're going to turn on the forklifts and get it rolling." The ceremony was a closed event for workers and employees. Joining the workers were some volunteers from other companies and retirees of the Manchester Budweiser distributorship. Retirees wore work clothes and offered support, whether that meant riding along in a truck or whatever else was needed, said John Hollis, 68, a retired Hartford Distributors employee and Teamsters' legislative liaison. Grief counselors will be on site for employees for as long people need it, Roos said. Hollander's son, Brett Hollander, the company's marketing director, said, "Nobody is going to be required to go in the building...we're all going to be there for each other." The Teamsters are organizing a memorial service and fundraiser to be held Sunday at 1 p.m. at the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts in Hartford. Gov. M. Jodi Rell has been invited to speak along with U.S. Rep. John Larson, D-1st District. Hollis said Teamsters General President James P. Hoffa donated $50,000 Friday on behalf of the national union to Local 1035 as a fund for families of the victims. Hoffa is planning to attend the event Sunday, as is David Peacock, president of Anheuser Busch. Teamster tractor-trailers will be coming in from all over New England, lining Capital Avenue across from the Bushnell, and will be joined by Hartford Distributors beer delivery trucks.

Ross Hollander, president of Hartford Distributors Inc., said Tuesday that employees will return to work Wednesday. They are set to meet in the parking lot at 7 a.m. for a period of "silence and remembrance" for their co-workers.

Police say Omar Thornton, a driver, killed eight people and himself Aug. 3 following a meeting in which he resigned after being shown video evidence that he stoel beer. Two other people who were shot survived.

The town of Manchester has scheduled a special service for the workers for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the North United Methodist Church.

Thornton's family held a private memorial service for him Tuesday at a Hartford funeral home.