OMAHA, Neb. - Before Robert Hawkins opened fire with an assault rifle at Westroads Mall on Wednesday, he scrawled a suicide note offering apologies to family and friends - "i never meant to hurt all of you so much" - but showing only contempt for his victms.
"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."
The 20-year-old gunman left the note at the suburban house where he lived before going to Omaha's Westroads Mall with an AK-47-style gun and opening fire on the midday holiday shopping crowd, killing eight people before turning the gun on himself.
Three still images taken from surveillance video released yesterday show Hawkins initially walking into the mall unarmed, wearing glasses, a black zippered sweatshirt over a black T-shirt with a white logo. Six minutes later, he returns and strides through an entrance decked with holiday decorations. In the last image, he is shown with his sleeves rolled up, aiming the assault rifle.
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."
Hawkins added, "I love you mommy. I love you dad" and expressed love for several other people. He told friends: "Just think tho I'm gonna be [expletive] famous."
Those who knew Hawkins most recently in suburban Bellevue said yesterday that they had tried to warn police about his behavior but got no response.
A man who lived nearby said he went to 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 not in their jurisdiction. Police Chief John Stacey would not talk about the neighbor's complaint, but said that the ususal procedure it that officers pass complaints from that neighborhood onto the Sarpy County Sheriff.
Sheriff's officials said they never received the complaint.
Kevin 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 previously 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," Harrington said.
He 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, 50, who had taken Hawkins in.
Omaha police released the three-page suicide note of Robert A. Hawkins:
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 I just can't be a burden to you and my friends any longer You are all better off without me. I'm so sorry for this.
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. just remember the good times we had together
I love you mommy
I love you dad
I love you Kira
I love you Valancia
I love you Cynthia
I love you Zach
I love you Cayla
I love you Mark (P.S. I'm really sorry)
To all of my friends I'm so sorry for what I've done to you and put you through. I've been a peice of (expletive) my entire life it seems this is my only option. 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. I just want to take a few peices of (expletive) with me. 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. I want my friends to remember all the good times we had together. Just think tho I'm gonna be (expletive) famous. You guys have always been there for me I'm just sad that I'm gonna have to go this alone. You guys are the best friends anyone could ever ask for. That's all I have to say is that I (expletive) you guys.
P.S. I didn't eat that (expletive) sandwich or the toielet thing either!
I'm giving my car back to my mom and my friends can have whatever else I leave behind
Signed (Hawkins' signature)