GUNMAN KILLS CHRISTMAS SHOPPERS

Worst Mass Slaying In Nebraska History Claims 9

OMAHA, Neb. — The worst mass slaying in Nebraska history claimed the lives of five men and three women, plus the shooter.ABC News has confirmed with two sources that the gun used at Westroads Mall was an SKS-style assault rifle with two magazines taped together found at the scene. ABC reported that taping magazines together is a technique that allows the shooter to reload more quickly.

That may be why witnesses heard so many shots when Robert A. Hawkins, 20, opened fire on Wednesday afternoon.

Omaha Police Chief Thomas Warren confirmed the rifle style, but would not confirm the magazine detail.

The woman Hawkins was staying with said she thinks he stole the weapon from his stepfather.

Outside of Hawkins’ mother’s home, Omaha police and a crew from the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were serving a search warrant in La Vista just before 10 p.m. It is believed the gun Hawkins used was stolen from the home. Agents searched trash cans and entered the split-level home through the basement. A K9 dog was also used.

Warren said the shooting appears to be random and without provocation. Warren said officers believe Hawkins acted alone, and that the entire incident took just a few minutes.

Warren said it may be impossible to come up with an explanation for Hawkins’ actions, but he believes the act was premeditated.

Omaha police said nine people were dead, including the alleged shooter. Five more were injured, two critically, police said.

Creighton University Medical Center said it had three victims and two were fatalities. The dead were a man and a woman, and no further details were released.

The Nebraska Medical Center said it has three gunshot victims, all wounded but alive. Paul Vaultus, at NMC, said a 61-year-old man was shot in the chest and was in surgery before 3:45 p.m. A 34-year-old man had a wound and was in fair condition. A 55-year-old man had cuts to the face.

Fred Wilson, 61, was out of surgery at 10 p.m. and in critical condition. He is the customer service manager for Von Maur, according to NMC. He is a retired teacher that taught English at St. Albert Catholic High School in Council Bluffs, Iowa. He also taught in Shenandoah and Clear Lake, Iowa.

Dr. Bob Muelleman said Wilson had serious injuries to his chest wall and upper extremity trauma. Muelleman described the wound as one from a high-powered rifle.

A shooting victim said he feels “exceedingly lucky” to have lived through a terrifying scene that played out at Westroads Mall on Wednesday.

Jeff Schaffart was shopping for a dress for his daughter to see Santa on Wednesday night. The child, 2, was not with him, but his wife was. He said he was shot from behind in the finger and the arm. Just before he realized he was hit, Schaffart said, he heard something.

“I heard gunshots. I initially thought they were some kind of balloons popping or construction. Then I heard people starting to panic, and they said, ‘Get down. Get down,'” Schaffart said.

He said he went through a women’s restroom as his wife hid nearby. Schaffart said he realized he’d been shot when he saw blood on his arm.

“There was a woman there with her baby and we basically stayed there for, I believe, a couple minutes. It sounded like the shots had subsided. I went to find my wife. She wouldn’t come out the area she was hiding in,” Schaffart said.

Schaffart guessed that he may have heard six to 10 shots.

Schaffart is an attorney with Koley-Jessen in Omaha.

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