OMAHA, NE — At 1:43 P.M. on December 5, 2007, Robert Hawkins of Bellevue, Omaha, opened fire inside the Von Maur department store at Omaha’s Westroads Mall shopping center.
Brandishing a Century WASR-10 semi-automatic rifle and two 30-round magazines of ammunition, Hawkins picked off 12 people among the crowd of holiday shoppers.
Six victims died on the spot; two died within 45 minutes of being shot; and four came away wounded, two critically. The eight fatalities were:
• Beverly Flynn, 47 — employee
• Janet Jorgensen, 66 — employee
• Gary Joy, 56 — employee
• John McDonald, 65 — customer
• Gary Scharf, 48 — customer
• Angie Schuster, 36 — department manager
• Dianne Trent, 53 — employee
• Maggie Webb, 24 — employee
Just six minutes after the first blast, Hawkins blew his own head off by a customer service desk. He was only 19.
Born in 1988 to Air Force parents in England, Robert A. Hawkins grew up in Nebraska and first saw a psychiatrist at age four. At age six, he was hospitalized for the first time for depression. Psychiatric issues continued to plague Hawkins for the remainder of his life.
After being expelled from high school for selling pot, Hawkins worked various minimum wage jobs. In early 2007, he attempted to join the Army, but was rejected over a previous felony drug conviction while still a juvenile offender.
Several weeks prior to the shooting, Hawkins stole $17 from the McDonald’s where he worked and got fired. His girlfriend then broke up with him.
On November 24, 2007, cops arrested Hawkins for underage drinking and providing alcohol to other minors. He was due in court on December 19. Obviously, he didn’t make it.
Among pages addressed to “Family” and “Friends,” Hawkins’ farewell announced his intentions and included the lines:
• “I’ve just snapped. I can’t take this meaningless existence anymore. I’ve been a complete disappointment and that trend would only continue.”
• “I know everyone will remember me as some sort of monster, but please understand that I don’t want to ”
• “I just want to take a few pieces of s—t with me … Just think, I’m gonna be f—kin’ famous.”
In the aftermath of the massacre, observers pointed out that Hawkins’ homicidal outburst was the single worst mass murder in Nebraska since the notorious 1958 serial slaughter rampage of Charles Starkweather — a killer of innocents who does, indeed remain famous.
Compounding the issue of Robert Hawkins and mass shooters who seek “fame” for their crimes was the arrival of the smash pop hit “Pumped Up Kicks” by Foster the People in 2011.
The song’s catchy groove and sunny sonic vibes contrast with the lyrics, which are all about a young psycho named “Robert” who warns in the chorus that “all the other kids with the pumped-up kicks better run faster than my gun” and “outrun my bullets.”
The group vehemently denies that the award-winning chart-topper was in any way inspired by Hawkins or the Westroads Mall massacre. Still, it did just make the murderer all that much more “famous.”
To learn more about this case, watch the “Something Is Different About Robbie” episode of Investigation Discovery’s Evil Lives Here on ID GO now!
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Main photo: Robert Hawkins/Westroads Mall surveillance video [screenshot]