Westroads Mall shooting

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Coordinates: 41°15′55.80″N 96°4′3.00″W / 41.2655000°N 96.0675000°W / 41.2655000; -96.0675000

Westroads Mall shooting

Police cars cordoned in front of the Von Maur department store building.
Location Omaha, Nebraska, United States
Date Wednesday, December 5, 2007
1:43pm - 1:49pm (UTC-6)
Target Von Maur at Westroads Mall
Attack type Mass murder, mass shooting, murder-suicide
Weapon(s) AKM 7.62x39mm semi-automatic rifle[1]
Deaths 9 (including the perpetrator)
Injured (non-fatal) 6 (4 from gunfire[2])
Perpetrator Robert A. Hawkins[3]

The Westroads Mall shooting was a mass shooting that occurred on Wednesday, December 5, 2007, at the Von Maur department store in the Westroads Mall in Omaha, Nebraska, United States. Nineteen-year-old Robert A. Hawkins killed nine people (including himself) and wounded four, two of them critically.[4] It was the deadliest mass murder in Nebraska since the rampage of Charles Starkweather in 1958.[5]

Details[edit source | edit]

Prior to the shooting[edit source | edit]

An hour before the rampage,[6] Hawkins' mother gave the Sarpy County Sheriff's Department his suicide note, which read: "I just want to take a few pieces of shit with me... just think tho, I'm gonna be fuckin famous [sic]."[7][8]

Hawkins entered the south entrance of the Von Maur department store about 1:36 p.m. CST (19:36 UTC). After walking a short distance into the store, he paused for a second, then turned around and left. Returning six minutes later through the same entrance, he proceeded directly to the elevator at his immediate right, this time with a Century WASR-10 (a commercial copy of the AKM 7.62x39mm) semi-automatic rifle[1][9] stolen from his stepfather's house, along with two 30-round magazines taped together,[10] concealed in a sweatshirt. He took the elevator to the top floor.[11]

Mall shooting victims[12]
1. Gary Scharf, age 48, customer.
2. John McDonald, age 65, customer.
3. Angie Schuster, age 36, employee.
4. Maggie Webb, age 24, employee.
5. Janet Jorgensen, age 66, employee.
6. Diane Trent, age 53, employee.
7. Gary Joy, age 56, employee.
8. Beverly Flynn, age 47, employee.

The shooting[edit source | edit]

At approximately 1:43 p.m. CST (19:43 UTC), Robert Hawkins stepped out of the elevator on the third floor and opened fire. He killed eight people and wounded four others over the course of six minutes, before dying from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head near the customer service desk.[4][13][14] He fired more than 30 rounds, striking 12 people. Six were killed instantly, one died before reaching the hospital, and another died 45 minutes after reaching the ER of another hospital.[15]

Omaha Police arrived at Westroads Mall about six minutes after receiving the first 911 call. During the entire 70 seconds of that first call, all the dispatcher heard was gunshots. Audio tapes and transcripts of the 911 calls, along with images captured by mall security surveillance cameras, were released by the police on December 7, 2007. In one 911 call, gunshots can be heard.[16]

An autopsy of Hawkins showed that he had 200 nanograms per milliliter of Valium in his system, which is the low end of its therapeutic-use range (100-1500 ng/mL).[17] No trace of any other drug was found in his system.[17]

The injured[edit source | edit]

Four of the victims shot by Hawkins survived. Two critically injured were store employees.[18] Fred Wilson, 61, was a manager for the customer service department. He was sent to the University of Nebraska Medical Center with a gunshot wound to the upper chest. By the time he reached the ER, he had lost three-quarters of his blood and had no pulse.[19] Wilson was upgraded to stable by the following weekend, and soon after was making some attempts to communicate. The other critically wounded victim was customer service employee Micheale "Mickey" Oldham, 65, who was sent to Creighton University Medical Center. She sustained heavy injuries to the abdomen and back, and, of the surviving victims, she suffered the worst injuries.[19][20] Another surviving victim was customer Jeff Schaffart, 34, who was treated and released at UNMC for a gunshot wound to the left arm and the little finger of his left hand. The Omaha Police Department announced on December 22, 2007, that Mandy Hyda, 34, received a bruise when a bullet fragment struck her left leg.[2] She was neither transported nor treated for the injury.[21] It was initially reported that there were five people injured (not including Hyda), but two of those at the scene who were sent to local hospitals were sent for reasons other than being shot by Hawkins.[4]

Community reaction[edit source | edit]

The Von Maur corporate headquarters in Davenport, Iowa issued a statement saying, "We are deeply saddened by the horrific shooting at our Omaha store this afternoon. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of this tragic event, as well as their families."[13] A similar statement was shown on its web site's home page.[22] Westroads Mall also stated on its web site, "Our thoughts and prayers remain with all affected by this tragedy."[23] Its home page also indicated that the mall would remain closed until the following Saturday, December 8; however, the Von Maur store, where the incident took place, did not open until December 20.[22] In the days following the tragedy, the Von Maur store was thronged on all sides by flowers and signs expressing condolences, as makeshift memorials to the victims.[24] By January 12, 2008, a fund for the victims' families surpassed one million dollars.[25]

The shooter[edit source | edit]

Robert A. Hawkins
Robert Hawkins.jpg
Born May 17, 1988
RAF Lakenheath, Suffolk, England, U.K.
Died December 5, 2007(2007-12-05) (aged 19)
Omaha, Nebraska, United States
Cause of death Suicide by gunshot wound to the head
Body discovered Westroads Mall, Omaha, Nebraska, U.S.
Residence Bellevue, Nebraska, United States
Nationality American
Education General Educational Development (GED)
Parents Ronald Hawkins
Maribel "Molly" Rodriguez
Candace Sims (step-mother)

Robert A. Hawkins (May 17, 1988 – December 5, 2007) was the 19-year-old perpetrator of the Westroads Mall shooting.[26] He was born at the RAF Lakenheath station in Suffolk, England, U.K., to American parents Ronald Hawkins and Maribel "Molly" Rodriguez.[27] He was estranged from his parents and lived with two friends and their mother in a ranch-style house in the Quail Creek Neighborhood[18] of Bellevue, a suburb 10 miles (16 km) south of Omaha.[3] He was attending therapy sessions, taking medication and being hospitalized for depression by the time he was 6 years old.[27] Throughout most of his life, he and his family were plagued by his psychiatric problems.[27] The day after he turned 14, he was sent to a mental health treatment center for threatening to kill his stepmother Candace Sims with an axe.[28] Four months later, he became a ward of the State of Nebraska, which lasted nearly four years.[28] He had undergone two psychiatric hospitalizations, and was diagnosed with attention deficit disorder, an unspecified mood disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, and parent-child relationship problems.[28] His extensive treatments cost the state $265,000.[28] He attended Papillion-La Vista High School and later dropped out during his senior year in March 2006, but received a GED. Debora Maruca-Kovac, the owner of the house in which Hawkins lived, described him as "troubled".[29] She also stated that he was depressed over being fired from his job at McDonald's, reportedly for stealing $17,[30] and over separating from his girlfriend two weeks prior to the incident.[18][31]

Hawkins was ticketed on November 24, 2007, for suspicion of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and two alcohol charges,[32] one of which was underage possession of alcohol. He was due in court for an arraignment on December 19, 2007.[18] According to local news sources, he threatened to kill a local teenager, because he thought she had stolen his CD player.[33] He was also convicted as a juvenile of a felony drug conviction[34][35] while in foster care in Omaha.[35]

The Smoking Gun released a copy of Hawkins' three-page suicide note which consisted of a note to his family, one to his friends, and his last will and testament, below which he signed his name and included his Social Security number.[7] Initial news reports indicated that Hawkins wrote in his suicide note, "I'm going out in style;" however, the phrase does not appear on the publicly released document.[8]

The day after the shooting, the Hawkins family released a statement expressing their condolences for the victims.[36] On December 13, 2007, Hawkins' mother issued a formal apology for Hawkins' actions in an interview on Good Morning America.[1][37]

See also[edit source | edit]

References[edit source | edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Mother of Mall Shooter Apologizes". AP. 2007-12-13. Retrieved 2007-12-14. [dead link]
  2. ^ a b "Another injured person identified in Von Maur shootings". Omaha World Herald. 2007-12-22. Retrieved 2007-12-22. ,
  3. ^ a b "Man opens fire at Omaha mall, killing 8". Yahoo! News. 2007-12-05. Retrieved 2007-12-05. 
  4. ^ a b c "Omaha Mall, Scene Of Mass Killing, Reopens". CBS News. 2007-12-08. Retrieved 2007-12-09. 
  5. ^ "Omaha's Deadliest Hour: 19-year-old man kills eight and himself at Westroads Mall". Omaha World Herald. 2007-12-05. Retrieved 2007-12-05. 
  6. ^ "Von Maur Shooter's Mother Says She Sensed Something Amiss". KETV. 2007-12-13. Retrieved 2007-12-14. 
  7. ^ a b "Omaha Gunman Suicide Notes". The Smoking Gun. 2007-12-07. Retrieved 2007-12-08. 
  8. ^ a b "Transcription of Hawkins' Suicide Note". The Associated Press. 2007-12-08. Archived from the original on 2007-12-10. Retrieved 2007-12-09. 
  9. ^ "Police describe what they found in gunman's car". The Associated Press. 2007-12-14. Retrieved 2007-12-16. 
  10. ^ "Nebraskans Hold Vigils as Shooting Details Emerge". NPR. 2007-12-06. Archived from the original on December 8, 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-14. 
  11. ^ "Mall shooter's suicide note: 'I've just snapped'". CNN. 2007-12-07. Retrieved 2007-12-07. 
  12. ^ "Computers may yield clues about mall shooter". CNN. 2007-12-07. Retrieved 2007-12-09. 
  13. ^ a b "Gunman opens fire at Omaha mall, kills 8, self". msnbc.com. 2007-12-05. Retrieved 2007-12-05. 
  14. ^ "Nine People Killed in Mall Shooting". Action 3 News. 2007-12-05. Retrieved 2007-12-05. 
  15. ^ "Chief: Shooter left store, came back with assault rifle". CNN. 2007-12-06. Retrieved 2007-12-06. 
  16. ^ "Mall Shooting 911". CNN. 2007-12-07. Retrieved 2007-12-07. 
  17. ^ a b "Kleine: What's Missing From Hawkins' Autopsy Surprising". 2008-01-02. Retrieved 2008-01-06. 
  18. ^ a b c d "Worst Mass Slaying In Nebraska History Claims 9: ABC: Shooter Used Assault Rifle With 2 Magazines". KETV. 2007-12-05. Retrieved 2007-12-06. 
  19. ^ a b "Omaha mall reopens, four days after shooting rampage". The Kansas City Star. 2007-12-08. Archived from the original on December 11, 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-09. 
  20. ^ "Gunman Kills Eight, Then Kills Himself, at Omaha Shopping Mall". Fox News. 2007-12-05. Retrieved 2007-12-05. 
  21. ^ "Police: Another Injured Victim Of Von Maur Shooting". KETV. 2007-12-22. Retrieved 2007-12-22. 
  22. ^ a b "Von Maur home page". Von Maur. Retrieved 2007-12-09. 
  23. ^ "Westroads Mall home page". Westroads Mall. Archived from the original on December 8, 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-09. 
  24. ^ "Memorial to Mall Victims Grows". KTPM. 2007-12-11. Retrieved 2007-12-12. 
  25. ^ "Omaha Shooting Victims' Fund Surpasses $1 Million". KMEG. 2008-01-12. Retrieved 2008-01-13. 
  26. ^ "Killer's note: I'm a piece of shit. Now I'll be famous". Sydney Morning Herald. 2007-12-06. Retrieved 2007-12-06. 
  27. ^ a b c "Robert Hawkins: His life a tragic tumble down". Omaha World-Herald. 2007-12-09. Retrieved 2007-12-09. 
  28. ^ a b c d "State official: Shooter placed in mental health facility 5 years ago". CNN. 2007-12-06. Retrieved 2007-12-16. 
  29. ^ "Gunman kills 8, himself at busy Nebraska mall". Dallas Morning News. 2007-12-05. Retrieved 2007-12-05. 
  30. ^ "Nine Dead in Omaha Mall Shooting". MSNBC. 2007-12-05. Archived from the original on December 8, 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-06. 
  31. ^ "Shooter Remembered By Friends, Landlord". KETV. 2007-12-06. Retrieved 2007-12-06. 
  32. ^ "HHS says it did its best to treat Hawkins". Omaha World-Herald. 2007-12-07. Retrieved 2007-12-14. 
  33. ^ "Friend of mall shooter's ex-girlfriend says she was threatened". Action 3 News. 2007-12-06. Retrieved 2007-12-06. 
  34. ^ "Police: Omaha Mall Shooter Stepped Off Elevator, Started Firing". ABC News. 2007-12-06. Retrieved 2007-12-14. [dead link]
  35. ^ a b "DHHS Care and Custody Timeline for Robert Hawkins" (pdf). Nebraska State Department of Health and Human Services. 2007-12-06. Retrieved 2007-12-14. 
  36. ^ "Omaha Mall Reopens With Extra Security". The Associated Press. 2007-12-08. Archived from the original on 2007-12-11. Retrieved 2007-12-09. 
  37. ^ "Tearful Apology From Omaha Shooter's Mom". CBS News. 2007-12-13. Retrieved 2007-12-14.