One of them [Robert Hawkin's friends], Shawn Saunders, says he never saw something like this coming... although he knew hawkins was troubled. "I was shocked. It didn't seem like something he would do. He was kind of a funny, goofy kid, you know. He's been depressed for the last couple of months and on a bunch of anti-depressants and what not. He got fired recently. Everything kind of sucked for him I guess."
"Omaha Mall Shootings: 10PM Coverage 12/06/07
By Brian Allen, Robert Wilson, Caitlin Haedicke
Story Created: Dec 6, 2007 at 11:43 PM CST
Story Updated: Dec 6, 2007 at 11:47 PM CST
Flags across Nebraska fly at half staff for those who died in Wednesday's shootings at Westroads Mall in Omaha.
Six of those killed were employees at the Von Maur store, where the shootings happened.
47 year old Beverly Flynn of Omaha worked there part-time to make money for the holidays.
66 year old Janet Jorgenson of Oomaha was a grandmother of 8.
56 year old Gary Joy of Omaha always had a smile on his face.
36 year old Angie Schuster of Omaha was engaged to get married.
53 year old Diane Trent of Omaha enjoyed working at Von Maurs because of the friendly atmosphere.
24 year old Maggie Webb of Omaha was the youngest victim who lived by the motto "you will only go as far as you let yourself".
Two Von Maur customers were also killed.
65 year old John McDonald of Council Bluffs hated violence, and a had a daughter who survived the 9-11 attacks in New York.
And 48 year old Gary Scharf of Lincoln...who had recently fallen in love with his ex-wife: they were set to be remarried.
Eight lives lost in one horrible day in Omaha, Nebraska.
65-year-old John McDonald died before emergency crews arrived.
McDonald's brother, PJ McDonald, is devastated. "It was a terrible thing. My brother was a gentle soul. If there was one thing that was characteristic of him... it is the fact that, he didn't like violence. He did not take well to any kind of violence."
The pain of what happened is taking hold tonight.
The focus for many has shifted away from here at the mall... the site of so much tragedy... to places of faith and worship... where people have gone to remember the victims.
At St. Leo's Catholic Church in Omaha, fellowship, prayer, and supporting each other were the most important things Thursday night.
"Faith is what helps you through these times. It also gives us hope." Rebecca Carillo worked at Von Maur. "It was important for me to get rid of some of my feelings."
She says the service helped her put this in perspective. "Right now i'm just trying to wrap my head around the fact that God has a plan for everything and for everything there is a season and I think right now is a time to heal and I've kind of worked through the anger."
Time and again we've heard the words this shouldn't happen here and tonight that same sense of midwest neighbor helping neighbor spirit is what a hurting community will count on.
"You don't really want to be by yourself at this time. You want to be around other people who kind of know what you are going through."
Many say what made this so much harder is the time of year when we should all be thinking of what we should be thankful for...several at the vigil say what they need more than anything right now is a lot of prayer.
The investigation continues tonight into the deadly shootings.
Authorities are digging into the background of the shooter... Robert Hawkins.
The Westroads Mall remained closed Thursday.
Funeral arrangements are beginning to be made for the victims.
As a city continues to grieve for their loss....new details have emerged about what exactly happened during Wednesday's shooting spree at the Westroads Mall.
Omaha Police still don't know why Robert Hawkins picked the Westroads Mall as his target, but they do know he moved quickly and destructively.
Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman says it was a senseless act of violence that took everyone by surprise. "Like most Nebraskans, I'm shocked, I'm stunned, and I'm still in disbelief. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. Our entire state is grieving."
Nebraska's worst single shooting spree in history was over in a matter of minutes and, according to Omaha Police Chief Thomas Warren, "It doesn't appear there was an opportunity for intervention."
Warren says security cameras captured Robert Hawkins entering Von Maur Department Store... leaving, and then coming back again. "He re-entered the store and appeared to be concealing something balled up in a sweatshirt."
Police believe Hawkins went straight to the elevator, rode it to the third floor, and immediately opened fire.
Investigators say Hawkins was using an AK-47 assault rifle. He fired off around thirty rounds...killing 6 store employees and 2 shoppers...before turning the gun on himself.
Police believe he stole the gun from his stepfather.
Hawkins had recently broken up with his girlfriend and lost his job at McDonalds.
In his suicide note, he wrote he no longer wanted to be a burden. Now, he is the cause of so much grief and sorrow. Omaha Mayor Mike Fahey is still in disbelief. "Our city is shocked and deeply saddened by this terrible, senseless tragedy."
Investigators say there didn't appear to be any reason Hawkins targeted the specific victims.
Some of Robert Hawkins friends are talking about him tonight...
One of them, Shawn Saunders, says he never saw something like this coming... although he knew hawkins was troubled. "I was shocked. It didn't seem like something he would do. He was kind of a funny, goofy kid, you know. He's been depressed for the last couple of months and on a bunch of anti-depressants and what not. He got fired recently. Everything kind of sucked for him I guess."
Other friends called Hawkins a "helpful" teen who struggled to overcome depression.
Hawkins had been treated for depression and attention-deficit disorder, and even though he was just 19, he already had a criminal record.
He had been a ward of the state for 4 years...after threatening to kill his step-mother.
According to Todd Landry with Nebraska's Children & Family Services, that ended when he turned 18 last year. "Our custody ended on August 24th 2006 when department custody was terminated by the court. Parental rights are intact and no other children in the family have been or are currently state wards."
Hawkins was sent to at least four treatment centers and group homes for youths with substance abuse, mental or behavioral problems."