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8 Are Slain, 5 Wounded by Gunman at Omaha Mall

A victim is wheeled out of the Westroads Mall after a gunman opened fire at a Von Maur store killing eight and wounded five before killing himself.
A victim is wheeled out of the Westroads Mall after a gunman opened fire at a Von Maur store killing eight and wounded five before killing himself. (Photos By Nati Harnik -- Associated Press)

Sgt. Teresa Negron of the Omaha Police Department told reporters that authorities were alerted by an emergency call in which shots could be heard in the background, but the shooting was over when police arrived six minutes later.

Negron said Hawkins appeared to act alone. She gave no motive for the attack and said she did not know whether the gunman said anything during the rampage.

Omaha's KETV reported last night that Hawkins was from Bellevue, Neb., but had been living the Quail Creek neighborhood near Omaha. A man who described himself as a friend of Hawkins's told the station that Hawkins had moved from one low-wage job to another, was taking prescription medication for depression and was "doing other stuff he shouldn't have been doing."

At St. Leo Catholic Church, just down the street from the mall, staff members locked down the church and canceled evening classes.

The Rev. Harry Buse said he was driving to the church soon after the shootings and saw lines of police cars and ambulances headed toward the mall. He followed and offered to help but was told to stay away, he said.

"I saw police at every single door with rifles," he said. "They were checking people one by one, and letting them out."

Westroads Mall is in the heart of Omaha, at the intersection of its major expressway and interstate. With more than 135 stores and restaurants, plus a large arcade and miniature-golf course in the basement, it is one of the largest malls in the Omaha area.

Von Maur is an upscale, 22-store Midwest department store chain where shoppers are serenaded by live piano music and can have their purchases wrapped for free.

"We are deeply saddened by the horrific shooting at our Omaha store this afternoon," the company said in a statement issued from its headquarters in Davenport, Iowa. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of this tragic event, as well as their families."


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