EAST HARTFORD ——Omar Thornton's mother remembers her son as a "gentle spirit" who had "started to kinda change," she told CNN.
In an interview this week with CNN's Soledad O'Brien, Lillie Holliday said her son, who killed eight people at Hartford Distributors in Manchester on Aug. 3 before turning the gun on himself, was "no monster."
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"I could see slowly he was just getting really frustrated and aggravated," Holliday told O'Brien.
She said Thornton told her he reported workplace problems to his supervisors and that he brought home signed documentation. During a 911 call to state police, Thornton said he went on his rampage because Hartford Distributors is "a racist place."
On the morning of the shootings, Holliday said, her son called her from a phone number she didn't recognize.
"I was so used to him calling me every morning, and I said 'Hello.' He said, 'Mom, I just killed the five most racist people,'" she told CNN.
"I knew he wasn't playing cause he don't talk like that," Holliday said. "But I was I guess hoping it wasn't true. … I just kind of lost it."
Holliday said the only clues that Thornton was upset "was that he was just getting more stressed out and he started to kinda change … like where he was more relaxed, he started being not so relaxed. But I never thought it would be possible that something like this would happen."
"I wish he was still here with me," Holliday told O'Brien. "I miss him so much. He's just a — a gentle spirit. He's the kind of kid that I could be out somewhere and come home, and he went out and bought my favorite ice cream and put it in the freezer, or left a rose on the table for me. I miss him and it hurts so bad."
"He's no monster," she said.
To see the complete interview, go to cnn.com.