[Note: This Story originally published on December 5, 2007.] Nine people are confirmed dead following a shooting at Westroads Mall in Omaha, Nebraska. Around 1:40 p.m. CST, Robert Hawkins went to the third floor of the Von Maur store in the Westroads Mall and opened fire, killing eight, before taking his own life. He is believed to have fired a total of 20 to 25 shots in two bursts. 5 others were hurt, 2 critically. The Westroads Mall is the largest mall in Nebraska, with over 135 stores.
David Keating, Vice President of Corporate Communications for General Growth Properties which owns Westroads Mall, says, “It’s believed the mall will be closed for the rest of the day.”
Apparently, last Friday, a grenade was found in the mall parking lot.
Hawkins, who lived in Bellevue, had written a suicide note before the incident. He had been arrested previously on a couple of misdemeanors.
About two weeks ago, he broke up with his longtime girlfriend, and this week he was fired from his job at McDonalds, said a woman whose family took Hawkins in.
Debora Maruca, whose teenage sons had befriended Hawkins, said she and her husband let Hawkins stay with them after he was kicked out of his family’s house. She would not say why his family had kicked him out. “He was depressed, and he had always been depressed,” Maruca said. “But he looked like he was getting better.”
Hawkins had earned a GED after dropping out of Papillion-La Vista High School. He was not on any medication for mental illness, but he had been treated in the past for depression and attention deficit disorder/hyperactivity disorder. Hawkins was gentle and loved animals, but he also had a drinking problem and would occasionally smoke marijuana in his bedroom, said Maruca.
“He was like a lost pound puppy that nobody wanted,” she said. “I felt sorry for him. I let him stay, and we tried to get him on his feet.”
Maruca said Hawkins phoned her about 1 p.m. on Wednesday, telling her he had left a note for her in his bedroom. She tried to get him to explain, but he hung up, she said. Maruca called Hawkins’ mother, whom she said she knows only as “Molly.” She went to the Marucas’ house, retrieved the suicide note and took it to authorities. In the note, Maruca said, Hawkins said “how sorry he was for everything.” He wrote that he loved his mom and dad and other family members and said he wasn’t “going to be a burden anymore.” He ended the note by saying that now he would be famous.
“I’m going out in style,” the note said.
Robert Hawkins, The 19 year old gunman involved in the Omaha Westroads Mall massacre, was a ward of the state for years. He was staying in Bellevue at a house on McCarty drive. Hawkins had a history of depression, using (and dealing) drugs, and had easy access to guns.
One of his best friends, 17 year old David Horvath, was later arrested for making threats. Cops found shotguns and a rifle in his home.
Hawkins’ suicide note is here.
Other sources: Wikipedia, WOWT CH 6