December 8, 2007 in Nation/World

Police release surveillance video of Omaha mall gunman

Anna Jo Bratton Associated Press
Associated Press photo

This image taken from a surveillance camera and released by the Omaha Police Department on Friday shows Robert Hawkins aiming an AK-47 assault rifle in the Von Maur store in the Westroads Mall. Associated Press
(Full-size photo)

Von Maur will reopen - eventually

» Retailers preparing for this morning’s reopening of Omaha’s Westroads Mall said Friday they were looking forward to returning to normal after Wednesday’s shooting at the Von Maur department store.

» ”Omaha’s world stopped Wednesday very abruptly, and it needs to restart so the healing process can begin,” said Vicki Dillon, district manager of J.C. Penney.

» Von Maur was not among the stores planning to open for business today.

» Megan Hakes, a spokeswoman for the Davenport, Iowa-based chain, said Friday that investigators had allowed company employees into the store. They now can begin assessing damage and start repairs, she said.

» It’s too soon to say when Von Maur will reopen, Hakes said, but she emphasized that the company plans to do so. “It’s not a matter of if,” she said. “It’s simply a matter of when.”

Omaha World-Herald

OMAHA, Neb. – Chilling surveillance images released Friday show a shaggy-haired, bespectacled Robert Hawkins taking aim at holiday shoppers, and his hand-scrawled suicide note offers compassion for his friends and only contempt for his victims.

“I know everyone will remember me as some sort of monster, but please understand that I just don’t want to be a burden on the ones that I care for my entire life,” he wrote. “I just want to take a few peices of (expletive) with me.”

The 19-year-old gunman left the note at the suburban house where he lived Wednesday before going to Omaha’s Westroads Mall with an AK-47 and opening fire on the midday holiday shopping crowd, fatally shooting eight people at the Von Maur store before turning the gun on himself.

Surveillance video and still images of the attack show Hawkins initially walking into the mall unarmed, wearing glasses, a black zippered sweat shirt over a black T-shirt with a white logo. He returned to the store six minutes later, according to timestamps on the footage.

Video of the department store’s south entrance shows Hawkins entering the festooned store and immediately walking to the elevator to his right. His right hand was tight against his midsection to hide what police said was an AK-47 assault rifle.

Police did not release video of the shooting, but released a still image from the tape that showed Hawkins with his sleeves rolled up, aiming the AK-47 to fire in front of a store mannequin.

The photos appear to contradict earlier reports that the gunman had a military-style haircut and entered the mall wearing a camouflage vest. Also, the note made no mention of widely reported broadcast reports that he wrote he wanted to “go out in style.”

Hawkins spent four years in a series of treatment centers, group homes and foster care after threatening to kill his stepmother in 2002. He recently broke up with a girlfriend and lost his job at McDonald’s.

“I’ve just snapped,” he wrote. “I can’t take this meaningless existence anymore I’ve been a constant disappointment and that trend would have only continued.”

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