Images show gunman at mall
Police also release a suicide note
OMAHA - In the first surveillance images released of a teenage gunman's shopping mall rampage, the shaggy-haired assailant can be seen raising an assault rifle to fire in front of a department store mannequin.
Police released three still images yesterday, two days after 19-year-old Robert A. Hawkins killed eight people and himself at the Von Maur store at Westroads Mall.
The images at first show Hawkins walking into the mall unarmed, wearing glasses and a black zippered sweat shirt over a black T-shirt with a white logo. Six minutes later, he returns and strides through an entrance decked with holiday decorations, an apparent bulge under his clothing. In the last image, he is shown with his sleeves rolled up, aiming the AK-47 to fire.
The images appear to contradict earlier reports that the gunman had a military-style haircut and entered the mall wearing a camouflage vest.
In a suicide note released yesterday, Hawkins said he "just snapped." The hand-scrawled note combines love for his friends and family with contempt for his random 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," Hawkins wrote. "I just want to take a few peices [sic] of [expletive] with me."
Police released the three-page note after the Associated Press made a Freedom of Information Act request.
Hawkins left the note at the Bellevue house where he lived before going to the Westroads Mall on Wednesday with an AK-47.
He said his friends would be better off without him, and told them to remember the good times they had.
"Just think tho I'm gonna be [expletive] famous," he wrote.
He was more apologetic to his family.
"I've just snapped I can't take this meaningless existence anymore I've been a constant disappointment and that trend would have only continued."
Hawkins became a ward of the state and spent four years in a series of treatment centers, group homes, and foster care after threatening to kill his stepmother in 2002.
Acquaintances said that Hawkins was a drug user and had a history of depression. In 2005 and 2006, according to court records, he underwent psychiatric evaluations.
About an hour before Wednesday's shootings, Hawkins called Debora Maruca-Kovac, a woman who had taken him into her home, and told her he had written the suicide note, Maruca-Kovac said.
The shoppers killed were Gary Scharf, 48, of Lincoln, and John McDonald, 65, of Council Bluffs, Iowa. The employees killed were Angie Schuster, 36, Maggie Webb, 24, Janet Jorgensen, 67, Dianne Trent, 53, Gary Joy, 56, and Beverly Flynn, 47, all of Omaha.
Jorgensen's family said yesterday they gathered soon after the tragedy at the police command center to pray for the victims and their families, including Hawkins. But they still haven't come to grips with what happened, family members said.
"We're waiting for her to walk in the door, late from work," son-in-law Randy Shaefer said.