"We saw the bodies and we saw the blood," she said.
Keith Fidler, another Von Maur employee, said he heard a burst of five to six shots followed by 15 to 20 more rounds. Fidler said he huddled in the corner of the men's clothing department with about a dozen other employees until police yelled to get out of the store.
On Wednesday night, police used a bomb robot to access a Jeep Cherokee left in the mall parking lot that authorities believe belonged to Hawkins. Officers had seen some wires under some clothing, but no bomb was found.
President George W. Bush was in Omaha on Wednesday for a fundraiser, but left about an hour before the shooting.
"Having just visited with so many members of the community in Omaha today, the president is confident that they will pull together to comfort one another," White House press secretary Dana Perino said.
It was the second mass shooting at a U.S. mall this year. In February, nine people were shot, five of them fatally, at a mall in Salt Lake City. The gunman, 18-year-old Sulejman Talovic, was shot and killed by police.
Associated Press writers Josh Funk, Timberly Ross and Eric Olson in Omaha and Lara Jakes Jordan in Washington contributed to this report.