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Terror, Grief in Nebraska After Mall Shooting

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Terror, Grief in Nebraska After Mall Shooting

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Terror, Grief in Nebraska After Mall Shooting

Terror, Grief in Nebraska After Mall Shooting

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/16961844/16961800" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Shoppers were stunned when a man opened fire with a rifle at a mall in Omaha, Neb., yesterday, killing eight people and himself.

BILL WOLFF (Announcer): From NPR News in New York, this is THE BRYANT PARK PROJECT.

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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.

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BURBANK: And the guys who are probably the most opposite of your stereotypical NPR guests - Blues Traveler showed up yesterday.

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STEWART: Did we even talk in that interview?

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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.

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