Police release surveillance images, suicide note of Omaha gunman

Saturday, December 8, 2007
Tammy Bowes, left, held her daughter Madison Bowes, 9, Friday as they viewed a makeshift memorial outside the Von Maur department store in Omaha, Neb. (Jeff Roberson ~ Associated Press)

OMAHA, Neb. -- 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 [sic] 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.

Video and still images of the attack show Hawkins initially walking into the mall unarmed. 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 with his right hand 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 was a troubled teenager who spent four years in a series of treatment centers, group homes and foster care after threatening to kill his stepmother in 2002. He had recently broken up with a girlfriend and lost his job at a McDonald's.

Those who knew Hawkins in suburban Bellevue said they tried to warn police about his behavior but got no response.

A man who lived nearby said he went to police a month ago to report his and other parents' concerns that Hawkins and his friends had easy access to guns, sold drugs and smoked pot with an adult.

Bellevue police said the house where Hawkins lived is in an unincorporated part of the city and not in their jurisdiction. Police chief John Stacey said normally officers pass complaints from that neighborhood on to the Sarpy County Sheriff.

Sheriff's officials said they never received the complaint.

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