OMAHA, Neb. - Chilling surveillance images released yesterday show a shaggy-haired, bespectacled Robert Hawkins taking aim at holiday shoppers, and his hand-scrawled suicide note offers compassion for his friends and only 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."
The 19-year-old gunman left the note at the suburban house where he lived Wednesday before going to Omaha's Westroads Mall with an AK-47 and opening fire on the midday holiday shopping crowd, fatally shooting eight people at the Von Maur store before turning the gun on himself.
Surveillance video and still images of the attack show Hawkins initially walking into the mall unarmed, wearing glasses, a black zippered sweat shirt over a black T-shirt with a white logo. He returned to the store six minutes later, according to time stamps on the footage.
Video of the department store's south entrance shows Hawkins entering the festooned store and immediately walking to the elevator to his right. His right hand was tight against his midsection to hide what police said was an AK-47 assault rifle.
Other footage released showed people fleeing the store, and the first police officer on the scene walking in with gun drawn.
Police did not release video of the shooting, but released a still image from the tape that showed Hawkins with his sleeves rolled up, aiming the AK-47 to fire in front of a store mannequin.
The photos appear to contradict earlier reports that the gunman had a military-style haircut and entered the mall wearing a camouflage vest. Also, the note made no mention of widely reported broadcast reports that he wrote he wanted to "go out in style."
Hawkins, of the Bellevue section of Omaha, 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 them to remember the good times they had.
"Just think tho I'm gonna be [expletive] famous," he wrote.
Also yesterday, those who knew Hawkins most recently in suburban Bellevue said they 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 a complaint from a Bellevue man whose daughter allegedly had been threatened on Thursday by Hawkins' best friend, but said normally officers pass complaints from that neighborhood onto the Sarpy County sheriff.
Sheriff's officials said they had never received the complaint.
The man, Kevin Harrington, said he had told police that David Horvath, 17, had left Harrington's daughter Shelby a voice mail threatening to "cap" her if she didn't stop saying bad things about Hawkins.