Terror, Grief in Nebraska After Mall Shooting
BILL WOLFF (Announcer): From NPR News in New York, this is THE BRYANT PARK PROJECT.
(Soundbite of music)
LUKE BURBANK, host:
This is THE BRYANT PARK PROJECT from NPR News, yes, it is - news, information; today, some toad lickin' fun. We'll explain a little bit later.
I'm Luke Burbank.
ALISON STEWART, host:
And I'm Alison Stewart. It's Thursday, December 6, 2007.
Look at the smile on my face.
BURBANK: Would that be because we have a new theme song…
STEWART: Oh, yes.
BURBANK: …that we're playing this hour?
STEWART: I'm so excited about our new theme song.
BURBANK: You like it better. It makes me feel a little like I'm riding around Philadelphia in my cousin Michael's Accura trying to pick up girls.
STEWART: Like there's something wrong with that?
BURBANK: No. I mean, that's actually one of my favorite places in the world to be, so it's perfect for that song.
STEWART: I'm loving the sound of this.
BURBANK: Well, I'm sure that our listeners also will have many more chances to enjoy this as they listen to every single hour of THE BRYANT PARK PROJECT going up forward.
STEWART: I hope so.
BURBANK: And the reason why you want to listen to this awesome show is because we have stories like Mike Huckabee and home cooking or lack thereof. We're doing a little series on these presidential candidates who are getting really -getting kind of dissed in their hometowns, and we're going to try to find out why that might be.
STEWART: We're also going to talk to an illustrator. You've probably seen his work in The New Yorker; he's also an author. He has written a book, you know, sort of a erudite guy and wrote a book about the history of snowmen. Apparently, the man likes snowmen.
BURBANK: Every time we try not to be public radio, it keeps pulling us back in. The history of snowmen…
STEWART: Yeah, you might be surprised.
BURBANK: Okay. I'm going to be listening for that.
STEWART: You might be surprised.
BURBANK: And the guys who are probably the most opposite of your stereotypical NPR guests - Blues Traveler showed up yesterday.
BURBANK: And they were energetic to say the least.
STEWART: The least.
BURBANK: And we've got them playing some music and talking about their band's coming album.
STEWART: Did we even talk in that interview?
BURBANK: I don't think so.
STEWART: If you could call it an interview.
BURBANK: I don't think - I left the studio for, like, 40 minutes. When I came back, they were still talking.
We're also going to have today's top news stories from Rachel Martin.
First, though, here's today's big story.
(Soundbite of music)
BURBANK: A 19-year-old opened fire in a busy Omaha shopping mall yesterday, killing eight people before taking his own life.
Witness Teresa Wheaterun(ph) told Omaha's WOW-TV what she saw.
(Soundbite of WOW-TV interview)
Ms. TERESA WHEATERUN (Employee, Westroads Mall; Witness): It was awful. Everyone was running, and a man had a new baby and he had lost his wife with their other son. They were shopping for Christmas clothes for their picture tomorrow. And she wouldn't answer her phone, and I felt so awful for him.
STEWART: Gunman Robert Hawkins also wounded at least five others in the attack at the Westroads Mall. Witnesses say Hawkins was dressed in a camouflage vest; he carried a black backpack and rifle. Police recovered an assault rifle at the scene they believed was used in the shootings.
BURBANK: The shooter was kicked out of his home about a year ago and had gone to live with a friend's family. The mother of that family, Debra Maruca-Kovac, told CNN she took pity on a person who was clearly having some problems.
Ms. DEBRA MARUCA-KOVAC: He was withdrawn; he was like a lost pound puppy that nobody wanted. When he first came and lived with us, he was in a fetal position and chewed his fingernails all the time and was unemployed and hopeless. After awhile, he got a job and came out of that.
STEWART: Maruca-Kovac said Hawkins was fired from his job at McDonald's this week, and he'd recently broken up with a girlfriend. He called her about 1 o'clock yesterday; told her he left a note for her in his bedroom. She tried to get him to explain; he hung up the phone. It turned out to be a suicide note, which she described to a reporter.
Ms. MARUCA-KOVAC: …Just said how much he was sorry for everything and what a burden he was. And that he was going to go - he was going to be famous now.
BURBANK: Of the eight who were killed, five were women, three were men. One woman was a mall worker whose shift was just minutes from ending. She was a real estate agent working a second job wrapping presents. One of the men killed was a grandfather.
STEWART: The attack was the deadliest gun attack in Nebraska since Charles Starkweather's infamous shooting spree in 1958. At least two victims remain in critical condition at this hour. We'll keep you up-to-date with the latest.
BURBANK: That's today's BPP big story.
Now, here's Rachel Martin with even more news.