Mall gunman's surveillance images released

OMAHA, Neb. -- A shaggy-haired figure in a baggy sweatshirt enters the Von Maur department store, glances to the right and left, and leaves. He's captured again by a surveillance camera about six minutes later as he re-enters, clutching his midsection as if hiding something, and stalks toward the elevators.

Investigators on Friday released surveillance footage showing the prelude to Robert Hawkins' pre-suicide assault on holiday shoppers at an Omaha mall. Eight people were fatally shot before Hawkins turned the gun on himself.

A first-floor security camera caught images of the scene minutes after the 19-year-old gunman opened fire: People scurry out of the store and the first policeman arrives with his gun drawn.

A chilling surveillance photo from the third floor shows Hawkins taking aim at shoppers.

His hand-scrawled suicide note offers compassion for his friends and 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."

Hawkins left the note on Wednesday at the suburban house where he lived.

Police did not release video from the third floor where Hawkins fired the gun. But a still image taken from the videotape shows Hawkins with his sleeves rolled up, aiming the AK-47.

The photos appear to contradict earlier reports that the gunman had a military-style haircut and entered the mall wearing a camouflage vest. Also, his suicide note makes no mention of a desire to "go out in style," as was widely reported in broadcast news reports.

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.

"I've just snapped. I can't take this meaningless existence anymore I've been a constant disappointment and that trend would have only continued," he wrote.

"I love you mommy. I love you dad," he continued, telling them to remember the good times they had.

"Just think tho I'm gonna be (expletive) famous," he wrote.

Some who knew Hawkins in suburban Bellevue said Friday that they tried to warn police about his recent behavior.

Kevin Harrington, who lived nearby, said he contacted 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 outside their jurisdiction. Police Chief John Stacey would not talk about Harrington's complaint, but said officers typically pass complaints from that neighborhood to the Sarpy County Sheriff.

Sheriff's officials said they never received the complaint.

Harrington, 45, said he told police in Bellevue about a month ago that one of Hawkins' friends offered to sell Valium to his 13-year-old son. Harrington said he also told police that Hawkins had once shot at a car during a drug deal gone bad.

"We told them about the drugs, we told them about the guns, and nothing was done," he said.

Harrington said his 16-year-old daughter used to hang out with the group of teens in the neighborhood at the home of Debora Maruca-Kovac, the 50-year-old woman with whom Hawkins lived.

Maruca-Kovac told the Omaha World-Herald that Hawkins showed her a rifle on Tuesday, but that she thought it was too old to work.

Harrington called police again Thursday after his daughter got a phone call from Hawkins' friend, 17-year-old David Horvath.

After the shootings, Horvath left Shelby Harrington a voicemail message, threatening to "cap" her if she didn't stop saying bad things about Hawkins, Harrington said.

Shelby Harrington had posted a critical comment about Hawkins on an Internet site after some of Hawkins' friends defended him. Police charged Horvath on Friday with intimidation by phone call.

Horvath's attorney Julianne Herzog tried to persuade the judge to release her client to his parents' custody. But Judge Robert O'Neal ordered Horvath to remain in juvenile detention until a psychiatric evaluation could be completed.

Horvath's parents told the judge that their son had not threatened anyone like this before, and they believe he made the threat in a moment of grief over his friend's death. After the hearing, Horvath's parents and Herzog exited the courthouse through a rear door and avoided reporters.

Harrington's daughter got a threatening text message from another friend of Hawkins on Thursday while she was being interviewed for TV's "Good Morning America." A 16-year-old boy was cited for disturbing the peace in that incident, Bellevue police said.

Meanwhile, funerals for some of Hawkins' victims were announced. A wake for John McDonald, of Council Bluffs, Iowa, was scheduled for Sunday, with a funeral the following day in Omaha. A vigil for Janet Jorgensen, a 14-year Von Maur employee, was scheduled for Sunday evening in Omaha, with a funeral Mass on Monday.

Jorgensen's family members gathered to pray for the victims and their families - including Hawkins' family.

"They're not vindictive people," family friend Paul Huntimer said Friday to a gathering of reporters at the Jorgensens' Omaha home. "It was important to Ron that prayers go out to the suspect's family."

The mall was scheduled to reopen on Saturday.

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Associated Press writers Anna Jo Bratton, Eric Olson, Josh Funk, Timberly Ross and Amy Forliti contributed to this report.


Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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