Gunman kills eight before taking own life in Omaha
A 19-year-old man killed eight people and then himself with a rifle at a busy mall in Omaha, Neb., yesterday, sending terrified workers and Christmas shoppers scrambling for cover.
Five people were wounded in the early afternoon rampage at the upscale Westroads Mall, two of them critically, according to hospital spokesmen.
“It was horrible, just horrible,” one woman told KETV, a local television station.
The shooting was the latest in a series of mass killings that have shocked the United States, where gun ownership is widespread and the right to bear arms is a hotly contested constitutional issue.
“It’s hard to believe it would happen here,” said Jennifer Bettger, who left the mall in the Midwestern city just before the shooting.
“It stops you in your tracks. We’re all asking why. Why here?”
KETV identified the gunman as Robert Hawkins, 19, from Bellevue, Neb., who was living near Omaha in the community of Quail Creek.
Witnesses said they hid in bathrooms, closets and under racks of clothes as an estimated two dozen shots echoed through the mall.
The gunman shot one man in the head from a third-floor balcony and others at point-blank range, witnesses said.
Most of the victims were shot inside the Von Maur department store near the children’s clothing area.
Police said the gunman died from a self-inflicted wound.