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State Ward Kills Eight
December 6, 2007 permalink
The gunman, Robert A Hawkins, who yesterday killed eight people and himself in Omaha, Nebraska, was a state ward for four years. While in state care he was diagnosed with three mood disorders. We don't know for sure that he was medicated, but if not, this is the first time on record psychiatrists diagnosed mood disorders without prescribing drugs. So this continues the pattern of mass shootings by young people — the killer was on psychotropic drugs, or separated from his father by force of arms, or apparently as in this case, both.
State Spent $265K On Hawkins' Care
Mall Shooter Was State Ward For 4 Years
UPDATED: 5:16 pm CST December 6, 2007
OMAHA, Neb. -- Nebraska spent $265,000 and four years trying to provide help to the 19-year-old who became the Westroads Mall shooter on Wednesday afternoon.
Eight people were killed, in addition to the shooter, Robert A. Hawkins.
Gov. Dave Heineman said Hawkins became a ward of the state on Sept. 17, 2002, but parental rights were not terminated and none of his siblings were state wards. Hawkins was terminated as a state ward on Aug. 24, 2006.
Todd Landry, the director of Child and Family Services for the Department of Health and Human Services, said the state spent $265,000 on services provided to Hawkins over the four years he was a state ward. Landry said Hawkins was made a state ward with no parental fault, but because he needed services, which included stays at residential centers and in-patient at a hospital.
Landry said Hawkins stayed at a facility in Missouri called Piney Ridge, plus Omaha's Cooper Village, Lutheran Family Services and Addiction and Behavioral Health Services Inc. Landry said those homes provide addiction counseling, mental-health counseling and behavioral counseling, among other services, but he could not say exactly what Hawkins was treated for under federal and state privacy laws.
Landry did say that one of the treatment periods came after Hawkins threatened to kill his stepmother.
- 2002 became ward of the state
- February 2003 taken to Cooper Village
- November 2003 arrested for a fight
- December 2004 enters foster care
- March 2005 charged with possession with intent to deliver
- December 2005 went to live with his father in La Vista
- August 2006 state care ends under court order
While a state ward, he was diagnosed with attention deficit disorder, mood disorder, oppositional defiant disorder and parent-child relations problems.
Landry said Hawkins was "provided quality services for a youth that needed it."
Chief Outlines Shooter's Day
On Thursday morning, Omaha Police Chief Thomas Warren said Hawkins was in and out of Von Maur before he opened fire.
Hawkins opened fire at 1:42 p.m. Wednesday. Warren said surveillance video shows Hawkins entering the store twice. The second time, he entered the main entrance on the first level of Von Maur about six minutes before police received the first call for shots fired. He said the tapes show that Hawkins was obviously hiding something in a black sweatshirt.
"He took the elevator to the third floor," Warren said. "Upon exiting the elevator, he immediately started firing shots."
It seems that Hawkins started shooting near the children's department. That's where 34-year-old attorney Jeff Schafford was shot in the arm.
On the third floor, Hawkins walked past the escalator atrium and shot down to the second floor, killing a customer, the chief said. He then walked to customer service.
"Several people were mortally injured. Multiple shots fired. In a recessed customer service area, he encountered several individuals (then) took his own life," Warren said.
Customers, shocked and scared, said that's when they began rushing for exits. By the time police arrived, the shooting was over.
Warren speculated that at least 30 rounds were fired from an AK-47 rifle. Warren said he believes the weapon was stolen from Hawkins' stepfather. Warren said the gun had two 30-round magazines with the ability to fire off rounds quickly.
Hawkins apparently left two suicide notes and a will, prompting Warren to call the shootings premeditated. The chief said people may never know why he went on a rampage. Warren said it appears that the victims were chosen randomly. He said it also appears the mall was chosen because it's a large public place where he'd get a lot of attention.
Warren said Hawkins left voice and text messages for his mother, friends and an ex-girlfriend and that Hawkins visited a friend near Westroads before the shooting.
A woman who said she used to hang out with Hawkins said she and the Von Maur shooter would smoke pot together. "Mandy" said her father forced her to quit hanging out with Hawkins and his friends, and in recent weeks she'd received threats from the group.
Mandy said Hawkins had threatened her and her family as recently as two weeks ago. She said one message threatened to shoot her if she didn't stop bad-mouthing Hawkins.
Hawkins was due in Sarpy County Court this month on minor in possession charges. In 2006, charges filed against him in Washington County related to drugs had been dropped.
Addendum: Here is definite word from his mother that shooter Robert Hawkins started taking Ritalin and Zoloft early in childhood.
Mom: Omaha mall shooter was troubled child
Published: Dec. 13, 2007 at 8:11 PM
NEW YORK, Dec. 13 (UPI) -- A young man who killed eight people at a Nebraska mall before taking his own life was a troubled child, his mother said Thursday.
Maribel Rodriguez told ABC's "Good Morning America" that Robert Hawkins was taking Ritalin, a drug given to hyperactive children, and the anti-depressant Zoloft when he was 5. From 2002 to 2005, he moved through a succession of foster homes after allegedly threatening his stepmother.
"I'm not a dictator, so I can't tell you what to think,'' Rodriguez said during the interview."But as his mother I loved him, deeply and without end. If you want to hate Rob, hate Rob. You don't need that type of pain. It destroys your soul."
Hawkins had broken up with a girlfriend and lost his job not long before the Dec. 5 shootings. He left a note that suggested he wanted to be famous for something but also said that he did not want to "be a burden" on his loved ones.
Source: United Press International