The gunman who killed eight people in a US shopping mall shooting “just snapped”, he said in a suicide note released today.
Robert Hawkins’ message combined love for his friends and family with hate for his random 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 pieces of (expletive) with me.”
Police in Omaha released the three-page, handwritten note today.
Hawkins left the note on Wednesday at the house where he lived, before he went to the Westroads Mall and opened fire in the Von Maur store, killing eight people before taking his own life.
The first page of the note was for his friends: “I love all of you so much and I don’t want anyone to miss me just think about how much better you are off without me to support.”
In the second page, addressed to his family, he wrote: “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 added “I love you mommy. I love you dad”, and expressed love for several other people.
The third page was his will: “I’m giving my car back to my mom and my friends can have whatever else I leave behind.”
He apologised to his friends in the first page of the note, saying: “I’ve been a piece of (expletive) my entire life it seems this is my only option.”
He said his friends would be better off without him, and told them to remember the good times they had.
“Just think tho I’m gonna be (expletive) famous,” he wrote.
He was more apologetic in the second page, addressed to his family.
“I’m so sorry for what I’ve put you through I never meant to hurt all of you so much and I don’t blame any one of you for disowning me,” he wrote.
“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.”
Police released three surveillance images from the shooting today.
The images at first show Hawkins walking into the mall unarmed, wearing glasses, a black zippered sweat shirt over a black T-shirt with a white logo.
Six minutes later, he returns and strides through an entrance decked with Christmas decorations, an apparent bulge under his clothing.
In the last image, he is shown with his sleeves rolled up, aiming the AK-47 to fire.
The images appear to contradict earlier reports that the gunman had a military-style haircut and entered the mall wearing a camouflage vest.
Moments after Hawkins entered the mall, authorities would be flooded with emergency calls about the gunfire.
One was from Jodi Longmeyer, a human resources manager at Von Maur, who agonised with the operator while barricaded in an employee locker room at the store.
She saw Hawkins step off the mall lift on the third floor. He was dressed in dark clothes. She saw his gun, watched him open fire.
Minutes later, shaking and scared, Longmeyer was able to get into a security room, where she described what she could see on live surveillance of the department store.
“Oh my gosh,” she told the dispatcher. “It looks like the gun is lying over by customer service. It looks like he might have killed himself,” Longmeyer said, her voice rising as she started to sob.
The shoppers killed were identified as Gary Scharf, 48, of Lincoln, and John McDonald, 65, of Council Bluffs, Iowa. The six employees killed were Angie Schuster, 36; Maggie Webb, 24; Janet Jorgensen, 67; Dianne Trent, 53; Gary Joy, 56; and Beverly Flynn, 47, all of Omaha.
Jorgensen’s family said today they gathered soon after the tragedy at the police command centre to pray for the victims and their families, including Hawkins.
But they still have not come to terms with what happened, family members said.
“We’re waiting for her to walk in the door, late from work,” son-in-law Randy Shaefer said.
State officials, acquaintances and police have described Hawkins as having a troubled past. He had broken up with a girlfriend recently and lost his job.
Acquaintances said he was a drug user and that he had a history of depression.
Hawkins spent four years in a series of treatment centres, group homes and foster care after threatening to kill his stepmother in 2002, state officials said.
In August 2006, social workers, the courts and his father all agreed it was time for Hawkins to be released – nine months before he turned 19 and would have been required to leave anyway.
About an hour before the shootings, Hawkins called Debora Maruca-Kovac, a woman who with her husband took Hawkins into their home because he had no other place to live.
He told her he had written a suicide note, Mrs Maruca-Kovac said.