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Westroads Mall shooting

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Westroads Mall shooting
Part of mass shootings in the United States
Police cars cordoned in front of the Von Maur department store building
LocationOmaha, Nebraska, U.S.
DateDecember 5, 2007 (2007-12-05)
1:43 – 1:49 p.m. CST (UTC−06:00)
TargetVon Maur in Westroads Mall
Attack type
Mass murder, mass shooting, murder-suicide
WeaponsWASR-10 7.62×39mm semi-automatic rifle[1]
Deaths9 (including the perpetrator)
Injured6 (4 from gunfire)[2]
PerpetratorRobert Arthur Hawkins[3]

On December 5, 2007, 19-year-old Robert Hawkins shot and killed eight people and wounded four others in a Von Maur department store at Westroads Mall in Omaha, Nebraska, before committing suicide by shooting himself through the head.[4] It was the deadliest mass murder in Nebraska since the rampage of Charles Starkweather in 1958.[5]

Prior to shooting[edit]

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

Surveillance footage showed that Hawkins, unarmed at first, entered the south entrance of the Von Maur department store at about 1:36 p.m. CST (19:36 UTC). After walking a short distance into the store, he scanned the area, 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 (7.62×39mm) 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]


At approximately 1:43 p.m. CST (19:43 UTC), Hawkins stepped out of the elevator on the third floor and opened fire. He first killed two women standing by some clothing racks before firing down the atrium, killing two men on the first and second floors. He then wounded two people on the third floor, one fatally, before walking to the customer service desk, where he shot several people, killing three. Hawkins then committed suicide by shooting himself up the chin.[12][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. 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 millilitre 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]


Eight people were killed by Hawkins during the shooting. Six were employees at the Von Maur store and the remaining two were customers. They are:[18]

Four of the victims shot by Hawkins survived. Two critically injured were store employees.[19] 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.[20] 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.[20][21]

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.[22] 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]


Robert A. Hawkins
Robert Arthur Hawkins

May 17, 1988
DiedDecember 5, 2007(2007-12-05) (aged 19)
Omaha, Nebraska, United States
Cause of deathSuicide by gunshot wound to the head
Body discoveredWestroads Mall, Omaha, Nebraska, U.S.
EducationGeneral Educational Development (GED)

Robert Arthur Hawkins was the 19-year-old perpetrator of the Westroads Mall shooting.[23] He was born at the RAF Lakenheath station in Suffolk, England, U.K., to American U.S. Air Force personnel parents Ronald Hawkins and Maribel "Molly" Rodriguez.[24] He was hospitalized at the age of four after persistent violent behavior in pre-school. He was diagnosed with attention-deficit disorder and posttraumatic stress disorder due to his chaotic homelife.[24] The day after he turned 14, he was sent to a mental health treatment center for threatening to kill his stepmother.[25] Four months later, he became a ward of the State of Nebraska, which lasted nearly four years until he was discharged completely due to his unwillingness to improve.[25]

During his second hospitalization, he was diagnosed with an unspecified mood disorder and oppositional defiant disorder.[25] His treatments cost the state $265,000.[25] He was expelled from Fort Calhoun High School after trying to sell drugs to his classmates in 2005. He then attended Papillion-La Vista High School, and later dropped out in March 2006. He received a GED. In late 2006, he became estranged from his parents and chose to live with two friends and their mother in a home in the Quail Creek Neighborhood[19] of Bellevue, a suburb 10 miles (16 km) south of Omaha.[3] Debora Maruca-Kovac, the owner of the house in which Hawkins lived, described him as "troubled".[26] She also stated that he was depressed over being fired from his job at McDonald's, reportedly for stealing $17,[27] and over separating from his girlfriend two weeks prior to the incident because he cheated on her.[19][28] In the summer of 2007, Hawkins tried to enlist in the U.S. Army but was turned down on account of his mental health record.[29]

Hawkins was ticketed on November 24, 2007, for suspicion of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and two alcohol charges,[30] one of which was underage possession of alcohol. He was due in court for an arraignment on December 19, 2007.[19] In late November, 2007, Hawkins threatened to kill a local teenager's family and burn her house down, because he thought she had stolen his CD player. The teen decided to press no charges because Hawkins was known for "shooting his mouth off".[31][32] Hawkins was also convicted as a juvenile of a felony drug conviction[33][34] while in foster care in Omaha.[34]


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.[35] By January 12, 2008, a fund for the victims' families surpassed one million dollars.[36]

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]

On January 7, 2009, Hawkins' mother Maribel Rodriguez was featured on season 7 episode 77 of the Dr. Phil show.[37] Hawkins was the subject of the series premiere of the Investigation Discovery series Evil Lives Here, a show that features testimonials of the loved ones of murderers, which premiered on January 17, 2016. It was his father and ex-stepmother's first public interviews since the shooting.[38]

Dutch DJ and producer Angerfist sampled an excerpt from a news story about the shooting on his track "The Road to Fame" on the Retaliate album, released in 2011.[39]


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."[40] A similar statement was shown on its web site's home page.[41] Westroads Mall also stated on its web site, "Our thoughts and prayers remain with all affected by this tragedy."[42] 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.[41] The day after the shooting, the Hawkins family released a statement expressing their condolences for the victims.[43] On December 13, 2007, Hawkins' mother, Maribel Rodriguez, issued a formal apology for Hawkins' actions in an interview on Good Morning America.[1][44]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Mother of Mall Shooter Apologizes". Associated Press. 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 "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. Archived from the original on 2012-05-30. Retrieved 2007-12-05.
  6. ^ "Von Maur Shooter's Mother Says She Sensed Something Amiss". KETV. 2007-12-13. Archived from the original on 2011-09-28. 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.[permanent dead link]
  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. ^ ""Everyone Will Remember Me as Some Sort of Monster" : Rolling Stone". 2008-08-13. Archived from the original on 2008-08-13. Retrieved 2019-12-01.
  13. ^ "Hawkins' likely path".
  14. ^ "Autopsy Shows Valium Only Drug in Omaha Mall Gunman's System". Fox News. 2008-01-01. Retrieved 2018-10-15.
  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. Archived from the original on 2011-09-28. Retrieved 2008-01-06.
  18. ^ "Profiles of 8 who died in Omaha mall massacre"
  19. ^ 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.
  20. ^ 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.
  21. ^ "Gunman Kills Eight, Then Kills Himself, at Omaha Shopping Mall". Fox News. 2007-12-05. Archived from the original on 2012-10-18. Retrieved 2007-12-05.
  22. ^ "Police: Another Injured Victim Of Von Maur Shooting". KETV. 2007-12-22. Archived from the original on 2011-07-23. Retrieved 2007-12-22.
  23. ^ "Killer's note: I'm a piece of shit. Now I'll be famous". Sydney Morning Herald. 2007-12-06. Retrieved 2007-12-06.
  24. ^ a b "Robert Hawkins: His life a tragic tumble down". Omaha World-Herald. 2007-12-09. Retrieved 2007-12-09.
  25. ^ a b c d "State official: Shooter placed in mental health facility 5 years ago". CNN. 2007-12-06. Retrieved 2007-12-16.
  26. ^ "Gunman kills 8, himself at busy Nebraska mall". Dallas Morning News. 2007-12-05. Retrieved 2007-12-05.
  27. ^ "Nine Dead in Omaha Mall Shooting". MSNBC. 2007-12-05. Archived from the original on December 8, 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-06.
  28. ^ "Shooter Remembered By Friends, Landlord". KETV. 2007-12-06. Archived from the original on 2008-07-04. Retrieved 2007-12-06.
  29. ^ "State official: Shooter placed in mental health facility 5 years ago". CNN.
  30. ^ "HHS says it did its best to treat Hawkins". Omaha World-Herald. 2007-12-07. Retrieved 2007-12-14.
  31. ^ "Six deadly minutes: Gunman arrived at Von Maur with a purpose". 2007-12-06. Retrieved 2019-05-14.
  32. ^ "Friend of mall shooter's ex-girlfriend says she was threatened". Action 3 News. 2007-12-06. Archived from the original on 2007-12-09. Retrieved 2007-12-06.
  33. ^ "Police: Omaha Mall Shooter Stepped Off Elevator, Started Firing". ABC News. 2007-12-06. Archived from the original on December 7, 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-14.
  34. ^ 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.
  35. ^ "Memorial to Mall Victims Grows". KTPM. 2007-12-11. Archived from the original on 2012-03-28. Retrieved 2007-12-12.
  36. ^ "Omaha Shooting Victims' Fund Surpasses $1 Million". KMEG. 2008-01-12. Archived from the original on 2012-03-18. Retrieved 2008-01-13.
  37. ^ "Mom of mall shooter says she's responsible". 2009-01-07. Retrieved 2018-10-21.
  38. ^ Investigation Discovery Presents Exclusive Accounts of Life with a Killer in Evil Lives Here Discovery Communications Press Release, December 22, 2015
  39. ^ "Angerfist - the Road to Fame lyrics".
  40. ^ "Gunman opens fire at Omaha mall, kills 8, self". NBC News. 2007-12-05. Retrieved 2007-12-05.
  41. ^ a b "Von Maur home page". Von Maur. Retrieved 2007-12-09.
  42. ^ "Westroads Mall home page". Westroads Mall. Archived from the original on December 8, 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-09.
  43. ^ "Omaha Mall Reopens With Extra Security". The Associated Press. 2007-12-08. Archived from the original on 2007-12-11. Retrieved 2007-12-09.
  44. ^ "Tearful Apology From Omaha Shooter's Mom". CBS News. 2007-12-13. Retrieved 2007-12-14.

External links[edit]