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An offer for Louisville Metro area residents.

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December 12, 2007

What if?

My question is, would the PSH Media even have covered it?

Omaha Mall Shooter Stopped by Armed Shoppers

by Scott Ott for ScrappleFace · 49 Comments

(2007-12-07) — When 19-year-old Robert Hawkins entered the Westroads Mall in Omaha, Nebraska, carrying an AK-47 assault rifle wrapped in a sweater, he intended to become famous by shooting as many people as possible and then turning the gun on himself.

The mentally-troubled teen left a suicide note, and a trail of evidence on his computer and elsewhere that he knew the police would spend months investigating. He had done everything possible to ensure that his name would be mentioned along with other mass killers at Virginia Tech, Columbine High School and the like.

He knew that the Westroads Mall was a gun-free zone, with signs on the entrances warning people with conceal-carry permits that they may not bring their firearms into the mall. He took comfort from those signs, as he pushed through the doors carrying the stolen assault rifle.

As he ascended to the upper deck, Mr. Hawkins could almost hear the screams of the shoppers as they tried to flee the sound of his shots, but due to the echo couldn’t discern the shooter’s position. He pictured the confused mall security guards talking over each other on the two-way radios. He rehearsed in his mind the final trigger pull that would end his mortal pain, and imagined the silence that would follow, punctuated only by the groaning of his dying victims.

That was the plan — careful, premeditated and nearly perfect.

There was only one problem: some people don’t read signs, and others ignore them.

As Mr. Hawkins moved into the ideal sniper position on the upper deck, an unnamed middle-aged man emerging from the nearby Von Maur department store noticed his odd behavior and glimpsed the muzzle of the rifle peeking out from the sweater. Almost instinctively the man moved toward Mr. Hawkins, reaching to his belt to draw out a Springfield EMP, a small, 9mm semi-automatic handgun.

As the would-be famous mass killer raised the rifle to his shoulder, the unnamed shopper commanded him to stop. Mr. Hawkins turned the muzzle of the AK-47 toward the commanding voice, a single shot rang out and Mr. Hawkins staggered, dropped his weapon and fell against the railing.

By this time, two other shoppers were aiming their pistols at Mr. Hawkins — a young, single woman pulled a .40 caliber Glock 27 from her purse, and a retired farmer drew his 9mm Ruger SR9 (an early Christmas gift from his wife). Together with the first man they moved in to separate Mr. Hawkins from his gun, search him for other weapons and restrain him until law enforcement arrived.

Robert Hawkins is recovering from his gunshot wound as he awaits trial for attempted murder and other charges. He faces the prospect of 15-to-25 years in prison, where police say he will be famous as “the guy who was almost famous.”

Westroads Mall officials said they had not decided yet whether to press charges against the three who interrupted Mr. Hawkins’ plan by violating the mall’s gun-free zone policy.

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