Tell me it wasn't Westroads.
No, it was Millard South High School.
How many dead?
An assistant principal and the shooter, by his own hand. A Glock ain't an assault rifle, and Omaha got a little lucky this time. Just a little.
"This time." That's a hell of a couple of words -- this time. They mean it's happened here before -- which it has. They mean it probably will happen again -- which I wouldn't doubt.
"This time." A hell of a thing, "this time." A hell of a thing that means I can just recycle what I wrote about last time, which is, in itself, a hell of a thing. This matter of history -- and youthful domestic terrorism -- repeating itself in my city. In Omaha.
Mayor Jim Suttle said this thing "descended on our city." No, things like this don't descend on a city, except in the sense that evil descends upon a place to wreak its havoc. Things like what 17-year-old Robert Butler Jr., unleashed don't descend so much as they're carefully constructed in the human heart.
Fitfully hatched in a demented mind.
Cynically incubated in a full-blown culture of death. That would be us, the world's new barbarians.
HERE'S WHAT I wrote three years ago, when youthful mayhem "descended" on Omaha in 2007 during the Von Maur massacre. Not a damned thing has changed except the name, the place and the extent of the carnage.
Just replace "Robert A. Hawkins" with "Robert Butler Jr.," "Christmas shoppers and salespeople" with "students and faculty." Call it good.
Or very, very bad.
Robert A. Hawkins was a terrorist just as much as is Osama bin Laden. Osama's a big leaguer; Robbie Hawkins was a rookie-league screwball pitcher. How do you like your newfound fame, kid?
I can appreciate that Hawkins was a sad, tormented and pathological young adult. I can. So were Hank Williams and Janis Joplin, but they still managed to leave behind much beauty in this world and killed no one but, ultimately, themselves.
And let's not forget Vincent van Gogh.
Robbie Hawkins' legacy is death, panic, mayhem, gore and heartbreak. Thousands of years of human tradition and theology tell us mayhem and death are the province of the Evil One, and modern psychology can offer no treatment -- no effective prophylactic -- for the demonic.
Robert A. Hawkins, age 20, was a sick young man. A sick young man who listened to the devil inside. A sick young man for whom self-murder just wasn't good enough.
No, he had to take eight others with him on his way out.
I grieve for the hell Robbie Hawkins' life became, just as I weep over the hell on earth he brought to innocent Christmas shoppers and salespeople. I will not, however, make excuses for what he did -- what he did to eight fellow humans, what he did to their families and friends, what he did to this city.
This city . . . Omaha. My home.
With great difficulty, I pray that God has more mercy on Robbie Hawkins' tormented soul than Robbie Hawkins had on a bunch of innocent people he knew not from Adam. But that doesn't change what Hawkins decided to become Wednesday afternoon -- a terrorist. Albeit one without a clue.
WE LIVE IN A SOCIETY that has fetishized sex, violence, death and materialism. None of the above can fill the void that haunts our being. None of the above can give adequate meaning to young lives like the one Robert A. Hawkins threw away in that Omaha shopping mall.
Americans are quick to mock those young, Islamic terrorists who embrace suicide, murder and carnage for the greater glory of Allah -- and the chance to screw themselves silly in Paradise with 72 hot virgins.
But at least they kill -- and die -- for something, no matter how warped.
For what did Robbie Hawkins -- and all his youthful predecessors like Harris, Klebold and Cho -- kill . . . and die?