Showing posts with label Hawkins. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hawkins. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Yes, again

Not again.

Yes, again.

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?

For what?

Friday, February 15, 2008

'The work of a madman!'

So long, it's been good to know 'ya.

Words to live by as the disintegration of our culture and our country continues apace as atrocities become so frequent as to lose their shock value. Pearl . . . West Paducah . . . Columbine . . . Red Lake . . . Lancaster County . . . Virginia Tech . . . Omaha . . . Lane Bryant in Chicago . . . and now Northern Illinois University.

This latest gun rampage, by a former NIU grad student, claimed five students' lives before the shooter killed himself. Another young male gone berzerk in the deadliest of fashions.

Another routine atrocity in another American town.

ABOVE is some of the early MSNBC coverage of this latest deadly mayhem. I know all this coverage all starts to look alike and meld into one big, surreal blob as time -- and tragedy -- go by, but I urge you to give it a look for one important reason. On MSNBC's air Thursday evening, someone named the beast.

Someone -- a criminal profiler -- finally told us what's going on. It starts at 3:35 into the clip, with Dan Abrams' interviewing the profiler, Pat Brown.

"Usually these men are young and they're kind of involved in the anti-life kind of culture of young people," she said. "That's why we always have the guy turning up in black . . . usually obsessed with killing."

So far, a pretty good mirror of much of our popular culture. I'd call it the popular culture of a society in its death throes.

But I digress. Back to Brown, the expert on criminals and what makes them tick:

"And it's a very cultural thing," she explained. "If you look back in time, you have kamikaze pilots who killed themselves. And now we have in some cultures suicide bombers; here we have . . . what do you do to get the glory when life is not going well . . . you become a school shooter."

Abrams wonders why we are no longer shocked by our ongoing atrocities.

"It's become the cool thing to do," Brown said. "And it's all over the Net. You can actually go to sites now, and you can talk about how you can be a Columbine guy yourself.

"And so when you decide you want to go out with a blaze of glory, you follow the pattern. You know you're going to get famous doing that."

Kamikazes. Suicide bombers. American young men wanting to do another Columbine. Or now, Virginia Tech.

Death cults, basically. Nihilism run amok. School shooters -- and mall shooters like Robert Hawkins this past December in Omaha -- are our suicide bombers. Terrorists, all.

And they don't come out of nowhere.

IT'S NOT LIKE we weren't warned. The novelist Walker Percy foresaw our times back in 1971, when he wrote "Love in the Ruins: The Adventures of a Bad Catholic at a Time Near the End of the World."

Percy, a minor prophet at least, set his novel in 1983. It actually took us until now to get close enough to Percy's dystopia for a keen observer to think "Whoa!"

At first glace all seems normal hereabouts. But a sharp eye might notice one of two things amiss. For one thing, the inner lanes of the Interstate, the ones ordinarily used for passing, are in disrepair. The tar strips are broken. A lichen grows in the oil stain. Young mimosas sprout on the shoulders.

The author describes a landscape where all is falling apart, including society and politics.

Political parties have careened off toward ideological extremes. The Republicans have become the Knotheads, looking for all the world like the fondest reactionary dreams of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham.

The Democrats have become the "Lefts," or, in our real-life vernacular, the Party of Kos.

The country is disintegrating, and the Catholic Church has split into three parts: the Dutch Schismatics, the American Catholics (who play the Star-Spangled Banner at the elevation of the Body and Blood) and the remnant Roman Catholics -- a scattered and dispirited bunch.

And everybody is overcome with angst of one sort or another.

The vines began to sprout in earnest a couple of months ago. People do not like to talk about it. For some reason they'd much rather talk about the atrocities that have been occurring ever more often: entire families murdered in their beds for no good reason. "The work of a madman!" people exclaim. . . .

The center did not hold.

However, the Gross National Product continues to rise.

There are Left states and Knothead states, Left towns and Knothead towns but no center towns (for example, my old hometown over yonder is Knothead, Fedville behind me is Left, and Paradise Estates where I live now does not belong to the center -- there is no center -- but is that rare thing, a pleasant place where Knothead and Left -- but not black -- dwell side by side in peace), Left networks and Knothead networks, Left movies and Knothead movies. The most popular Left films are dirty movies from Sweden. All-time Knothead favorites, on the other hand, include The Sound of Music, Flubber, and the Ice Capades of 1981, clean movies all.

I've stopped going to movies. It is hard to say which is more unendurable, the sentimental blasphemy of Knothead movies like The Sound of Music or sitting in a theater with strangers watching other strangers engage in sexual intercourse and sodomy on the giant 3-D Pan-a-Vision screen.

BUT ENOUGH about that. Let's talk about the latest atrocity, instead -- at Northern Illinois, right?

"The work of a madman!"

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Because the Packers lost. . . .

This is so messed up, I don't know where to start.

But an Omaha television station is reporting, citing multiple sources, that a 21-year-old college student died . . . was murdered . . . because the Green Bay Packers lost to the New York Giants.

YOU READ correctly: KMTV, citing its sources and police reports, says 19-year-old Kyle Bormann had been watching the ball game, getting liquored up and getting madder by the minute. And then, say the station's sources, he decided that because the Packers sucked, someone in Omaha was going to die:

Why would anyone gun down a random women in a drive-thru? Until now, few knew. Multiple sources shed light on the shocking evidence. Evidence, that the Green Bay Packers losing playoff performance, could be one of many things that motivated Kyle Bormann to allegedly kill Brittany Williams.

Picking up dinner for her father, Brittany Williams dies in a drive-thru. Eight-thirty on January 20th, a bullet rips through her car, killing her instantly. Police say Kyle Bormann pulled the trigger on a high-powered rifle one hundred yards up 30th Street from the Florence fast-food restaurant.

According to police booking sheets, Bormann had been drinking before the murder. Multiple sources tell Action 3 News the drinking coincided with watching the Green Bay Packers, New York Giants football game. At some point during the game, Action 3 News sources confirm Bormann became enraged with the Packers' poor play. His anger mixed with alcohol, they say, led him to leave home, go to the Florence neighborhood and randomly kill Brittany Williams.
GREEN BAY, we have a problem.

I can understand getting mad and killing the TV. Stupid . . . but understandable. But drunkenly deciding that a young woman, an honor student, must die because the Packers lost?

I have no words for that.

If all this is true, here's to a 19-year-old loser's new favorite football team . . . the Mean Machine.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Explains a lot

And all it takes is a poorly socialized moron to sling around outraged F-bombs because a blogger was insufficiently sympathetic toward what procsecutors say is a confessed cold-blooded murderer.

Wednesday's Omaha World-Herald:

Kyle Bormann has admitted firing the shot that killed 21-year-old Brittany
Williams, a prosecutor said Wednesday in Douglas County Court.

The 19-year-old Omaha man was denied bail by Judge Jeffrey Marcuzzo. Marcuzzo cited the seriousness of the crime in his decision.

Bormann, who lived with his father in the Ponca Hills area, was charged Tuesday with first-degree murder and use of a weapon to commit a felony. He is accused of firing a rifle at Williams on Sunday evening as she sat in her car in the drive-through lane at the Kentucky Fried Chicken/Long John Silver's restaurant at 7601 N. 30th St. Police said he was about 100 yards away.

The restaurant is a little over two miles down 30th Street from the Bormann house.


During an interview at the police station, Smith said, Bormann admitted firing his rifle at Williams' car while she waited in the drive-through lane.

Authorities have said Bormann shot Williams with a Winchester .243-caliber bolt-action rifle that had a Bushnell scope.

Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine said Wednesday afternoon that Bormann was wearing camouflage and that he had been drinking alcohol prior to the shooting.

About a dozen of Williams' friends and relatives attended Wednesday's hearing.

After the hearing, Jerard Christian, a cousin of Williams who serves in the U.S. Army, said, "This is ridiculous. Something needs to be done about all this gun violence in Omaha. I am trained in the military, and to take somebody's life because he's upset about something, he has no idea how many lives he's hurt by this."

SORRY, ANONYMOUS, all my sympathy has been used up on the poor girl your pal with the high-powered blew away at the KFC. Allegedly.

But your artful missive has explained a lot. I think it's explained that my generation has raised a bunch of foul-mouthed, unsocialized, violent butt-wipes who we may well have reason to fear.

Or at least disarm.

Thanks for sharing.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Death is a 19-year-old, dope-smoking
child of divorce with a gun . . .

All it takes is a loser with a gun to shoot out our brightest lights.

Leaving us with the loser.
And his gun.

OMAHA POLICE SAY it was 19-year-old Kyle Bormann who, dressed in camouflage and carrying a hunting rifle with a telescopic sight, went hunting Sunday night on North 30th Street. This is who he allegedly bagged -- his prey -- the young woman shot in the head as she waited in the drive-through line at Kentucky Fried Chicken:
Brittany Williams was going somewhere in life. She knew it. And she wanted other people to know it, too.

"She knew she wanted to go places and do things," said Mel Clancy, who knew her well through the Project Achieve program he directs at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. "She was always meticulously dressed. She projected the part of a polished college student. And she worked her tail off."

The future Williams was building for herself was ripped away from her Sunday night. Williams, 21, was killed about 8:40 p.m. Sunday as she sat in her car outside the Kentucky Fried Chicken/Long John Silver's restaurant at 7601 N. 30th St. Omaha police say Kyle J. Bormann, 19, used a high-powered rifle to shoot Williams from about 100 yards away.

Williams, a junior at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, died at the scene.

Bormann was charged today in Douglas County Court with first-degree murder and use of a weapon to commit a felony in connection with the shooting.

"It appears to be a premeditated event, and the evidence reflects that," said Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine, who filed the charges. "But it appears to be random in nature, even though it was an intentional killing. We don't know the motive or motivation behind it."


Williams made the dean's list several times while studying pre-nursing at UNO, Clancy said. She volunteered for several community projects, including UNO's seven days of service during spring break. Herself a participant in Project Achieve, a program for first-generation, low-income students, she was giving back by advising younger students in the program.

"This young lady had success written all over her," Clancy said.

Whatever she decided to do, Williams would have done it with style and a smile, a sorority sister said.

"She was a great person, a sweet person who would do anything for you," said Tia Robinson, a fellow member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. "Bubbly. Energetic. She was always smiling. Anytime you saw her, she'd give you a hug."

Monday afternoon, Robinson and four fellow sorority sisters held hands, prayed, cried and hugged each other on the snowy southeast corner of 30th and Craig Streets. They stood a few yards from where Williams' life had been coldly and apparently randomly stolen Sunday night in the drive-through lane of a fast-food restaurant.

The women toiled to push a wooden stake into a frozen flowerbed. On the stake was a placard signed by sorority sisters in squiggly letters with bright-colored markers. On the placard was an enlarged photo of a long-haired young woman in a white dress with a bright smile: Brittany.

Williams, who graduated from North High School after attending Northwest High through 11th grade, was a Goodrich Program scholar at UNO.

Mike Carroll, an associate professor with the Goodrich Program, said he remembered her well.

"She was a talented student and a good writer," he said. "I had her in English composition, where she wrote some autobiographical essays that showed a broad understanding of the local community. . . . She talked about nursing and wanting to make a difference."
MEANWHILE, as we find out more and more about the Kyle Bormann, we also find more commonality between the alleged gunman and Westroads Mall shooter Robert Hawkins.

Now it's not only that both were children of divorce. It seems that Bormann had a few convictions in South Dakota for both drugs and minor in possession of alcohol. KETV television in Omaha reports:
Kleine said the possibility that this was a hate crime is still being considered by investigators.

"We'll see where that leads, as far as motivation -- what motive he had," the prosecutor said.

Police said Bormann was 100 to 200 yards away from Williams' car northwest of the restaurant on 30th Street when he fired the gun.

Kleine said Bormann used something like a Winchester model 670a with a .243 cartridge. Considered a pure sportsman's rifle by some, it is a bolt-operated rifle that takes some time to reload.

Kleine said the gun had a scope, and that the weapon belongs to Bormann.

"Apparently he had some history of hunting -- lived in South Dakota. That's where he was from, and was a hunter," Kleine said.

When he was arrested on Sunday night, police said they found Bormann dressed as a hunter.

"He was dressed in camouflage gear, camouflage jacket, camouflage pants," Kleine said.

Kleine said he will ask a judge on Wednesday to assign no bond for Bormann.

South Dakota criminal records show that Bormann has been charged with crimes in at least three counties. The charges range from traffic violations to drug possession -- a charge that was later reduced.

Bormann was sentenced in Brookings County in July after he pleaded guilty to ingesting intoxicants. Brookings police said an officer saw Bormann acting suspiciously near a motel, and when the officer tried to find out what he was doing, Bormann took off running.

"The officer was able to locate him again and through his investigation, there was the smell of alcohol, as well as marijuana," Lt. Jeff Miller of the Brookings Police Department told television station KSFY.

Police said an ingesting charge is most common when a suspect is under the influence, but the officer doesn't find the person carrying a substance.

One of the conditions of Bormann's sentencing was that he had to stay out of trouble with the law until next July, records show.
OMAHA'S WOWT television says Bormann had "two minor drug arrests," two MIPs and a speeding charge on his South Dakota rap sheet.

Now all we need is to find out race hatred was the motivation. The prosecutor isn't saying -- yet -- but another Omaha TV station, KMTV, reported Tuesday that one of Bormann's friends was afraid that it was.

Lord, have mercy.

Another day, another atrocity

White kid from small-town South Dakota moves to the big city, comes across African-American college student -- a young woman, a 21-year-old sorority sister and scholarship recipient, the daughter of an Omaha public-works employee.

Their fateful encounter came in the drive-through lane of a KFC in the Florence section of north Omaha.

CHECK THAT. Brittany Williams was sitting in her car in the KFC drive-through. Kyle Bormann, say police, was in his car 100 yards away -- with a high-powered rifle. And officers say he aimed that rifle at Brittany Williams' head and pulled the trigger.

Brittany Williams died where she sat.

In her car.

At the KFC.

The Omaha World-Herald picks up the story:

Kyle Bormann was an above-average high school student growing up in South Dakota, earning mostly A's and B's. He excelled in chemistry and precalculus. He had no discipline problems in school. He held a part-time job at the small-town grocery store.

As of Sunday evening, however, the portrait had changed.

That's when Bormann, 19, is accused of fatally shooting a 21-year-old Omaha woman who had stopped in a fast-food restaurant's drive-through lane.

Police say the shooting was random, and the shot was fired from about 100 yards away.

Omaha police say Bormann used a high-powered rifle to shoot Brittany Williams about 8:40 p.m. as she sat in her car outside the Kentucky Fried Chicken/Long John Silver's restaurant at 7601 N. 30th St.

Williams, who had attained junior status at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, died at the scene.

Bormann's alleged role in the shooting has floored Bormann's friends, school officials and relatives in his native South Dakota.

"I can't believe that he would do something like that. It sounds kind of crazy," said 21-year-old Jim Jensen, one of Bormann's close friends from Wessington Springs, S.D.

Bormann graduated from Wessington Springs High School in 2006, a year after Jensen. He attended Dell Rapids High School in South Dakota for the first three years of high school before changing schools his senior year.

Bormann's parents are divorced. His father, Greg, lives in the Ponca Hills neighborhood in Omaha. His mother still lives in South Dakota.

Bormann's family declined to comment. A handwritten sign posted Monday outside his house on Canyon Road read, "No media. No trespassing." A woman who answered the phone at the house declined to comment.

At Dell Rapids, a high school 15 miles from Sioux Falls, Bormann earned mostly A's and B's, said his former high school guidance counselor, George Henry.

"He never got any bad grades," Henry said. "I never recalled any discipline, no anger from him, no fighting. Just a nice kid. A little on the quiet side."

Wessington Springs Principal/ Superintendent Darold Rounds said Bormann adjusted well despite transferring into the tiny school for his senior year. One of Bormann's older sisters now teaches at Wessington Springs and serves as an assistant athletic coach, Rounds said.

"Kyle was popular among students, just an ideal student, and new people don't usually fit right in," said Rounds, who recalled attending Bormann's summer graduation party in 2006 and meeting several of Bormann's relatives.

Friends and school officials say they have a hard time understanding that Bormann is accused of shooting a woman he didn't know.

"This floors me. I am really shocked," said Rounds. "It's hard to comprehend."

About 20 minutes after the shooting, Omaha police said, a man later identified as Bormann drove a white 1996 Chrysler Sebring through the crime-scene tape that officers had put up around the restaurant. He ignored police officers' commands to stop and drove off.

Police chased the car, and it stopped at 29th and Bondesson Streets, where the driver jumped out and ran away. Police said the man threw a high-powered rifle to the ground.

After a short foot chase, officers arrested Bormann on suspicion of criminal homicide and use of a weapon to commit a felony.

Omaha police allege that Bormann was inside his vehicle when he fired the rifle. Police said there were no indications that Williams and Bormann knew each other.

"It's not a whole lot different than the Von Maur situation in that it's just completely random," Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine said. "You're just shopping at a store or waiting in a drive-through and this happens? It's unimaginable."
THAT MAKES TWO random acts of horror pinned on 19-year-old white males in Omaha in a month and a half. Apart from that, the only thing anyone can find in common is that the young men were children of divorce. And that the shootings were utterly random.

Are we raising up a generation of monsters, or is this a pure fluke? Along with Virginia Tech and Columbine and Von Maur and all the other horrors committed by young men in the past decade.

Can't really say.

Can say for a fact, though, that this is what we've lost:

Beautiful, bubbly Brittany Williams was a young collegian preparing for a future in nursing.

Or maybe the fashion business.

But whatever she decided to do, Williams would have done it with style and a smile, a sorority sister said Monday.

"She was a great person, a sweet person who would do anything for you," said Tia Robinson, a fellow member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. "Bubbly. Energetic. She was always smiling. Anytime you saw her, she'd give you a hug."

Monday afternoon, Robinson and four fellow sorority sisters held hands, prayed, cried and hugged each other on the snowy southeast corner of 30th and Craig Streets. They stood a few yards from where Williams' life had been coldly and apparently randomly stolen Sunday night in the drive-through lane of a fast-food restaurant.

The women toiled to push a wooden stake into a frozen flowerbed. On the stake was a placard signed by sorority sisters in squiggly letters with bright-colored markers. On the placard was an enlarged photo of a long-haired young woman in a white dress with a bright smile: Brittany.

Williams, 21, was a junior at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. A Goodrich Program scholar from Omaha, she was in pre-nursing studies.

Mike Carroll, an associate professor with the Goodrich Program, said he remembered her well.

"She was a talented student and a good writer," he said. "I had her in English composition, where she wrote some autobiographical essays that showed a broad understanding of the local community. . . . She talked about nursing and wanting to make a difference."

Saturday, December 15, 2007

What the hell did you think he meant?

These people didn't have to die.

But they did, because this story in the Omaha World-Herald today proves we've learned absolutely, positively nothing in the wake of Virginia Tech.

AND THAT staggering stupidity -- at least on the part of one Bellevue, Neb., houseful of nimrods -- meant there would be . . . had to be an Omaha massacre. Godamighty, I hope there's something the cops can charge these fools with.

Read the following by Lynn Safranek and Paul Hammel and weep:
Robert Hawkins spoke about shooting people in large places before he did just that, killing eight people and wounding three more at Von Maur, according to police documents filed Friday in Douglas County District Court.

The family that took in Hawkins was concerned about the threat and discussed kicking Hawkins out of their home, the documents state.

Those details were released Friday in a search warrant affidavit. Two other search warrants were made public Thursday.

Omaha police executed the most recently released search warrant on Hawkins' 1995 Jeep on Dec. 5 — the same day as the Von Maur shootings.

The affidavit, written Dec. 5 by Omaha Police Officer William Fell, shows for the first time that Hawkins may have expressed homicidal thoughts involving strangers before the rampage.

According to the affidavit, Kraig Kovac, 17, told officers of Hawkins' statements. Kovac is the son of Debora Maruca, who had let Hawkins, 19, live in a bedroom in their home for the past year.

A man who answered the phone Friday at Maruca's home in the Quail Creek neighborhood west of Bellevue said that what police wrote in the affidavit was not true.

"This allegation — I don't know where it's coming from," he said. The man declined to comment further and did not give his name.

Omaha police presented the affidavit — a written report explaining the grounds for a search warrant — to Douglas County District Judge Gregory Schatz, who then authorized investigators' search of Hawkins' vehicle.

Lt. Alex Hayes, the Omaha police detective directing the Westroads investigation day to day, said that in the days before Hawkins went to the mall, the teen talked about having "a standoff." Hayes said Hawkins had talked often about suicide and about shooting people in large places.

"At this point in the investigation, we can't say anyone specifically knew something they could have acted on," Hayes said.

According to the search warrant affidavit:

While Omaha police were investigating the shooting on Dec. 5, Kovac approached officers at Westroads Mall and said he had information about what had happened.

Kovac told Omaha Detective Doug Herout that Hawkins lived at his home with his mother, Debora Maruca, and older brother.

Kovac said he had seen some of Hawkins' writings that described committing suicide "in a place with a large number of people."

In the last couple of days, Hawkins also had been "acting strange" and spoke of "going out and shooting people in large places."

Scared, Kovac told his mother what he had seen and heard. The family began considering kicking Hawkins out of the home.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Blow up your TV

From the Omaha World-Herald:

Mark Dotson said his ex-wife was staying at his southwest Bellevue house with their two daughters when she invited Hawkins, her son, over for dinner. It was the night before the Westroads shootings.

Dotson, who was in Thailand on a vacation with a girlfriend, said Hawkins took his rifle from a closet when his ex-wife left with the girls to buy a birthday present at Wal-Mart. They were gone an hour, he said.

When Dotson's ex-wife, Maribel "Molly" Rodriguez, returned, Hawkins abruptly ended a session on the Internet, said goodbye and "plenty of I-love-yous" and left.

After the fact, she thought she could have read something into that," said Dotson of the mother. "She feels horrible."

Phone messages left with Rodriguez were not returned. A day after attending the private burial of her son, Rodriguez was in New York, her ex-husband said.

Part of an interview with Rodriguez by
ABC News
aired Wednesday might. Her account of the evening spent with her son matched Dotson's. She said she's "thinking now my life is over."

"I'm so sorry, so sorry," she said. "Please forgive me and my little Robert."

THE MOTHER OF the Murderer Whose Name Must Not Be Spoken is in New York, giving an exclusive interview to ABC News. She'll be on Good Morning America this AM.

Of course, ABC News and Diane Sawyer and Good Morning America are long gone from Omaha, having "moved on." Meanwhile, the eight victims of the Terrorist Whose Name Must Not Be Spoken -- at least not be spoken unless really necessary, like in the World-Herald story -- were buried in yesterday's-news anonymity and their families have been left to grieve far from the network spotlight.

The dead and buried, and the people who loved them, no longer are sexy, happening or now. We're all about the "now" now. If only the tales of many victims' heroism -- heroism that meant certain death -- had surfaced a couple of news cycles earlier. . . .

Oops, too late! Irrelevant to the national conversation, unlike the Oprah 'n' Obama Show.

BUT IF YOU HAVE an exclusive interview with the mama of the homicidal whack job . . . well, that's something! Diane can elicit gut-wrenching tales of a troubled, misunderstood youth who made some bad choices. Like committing mass murder in a crowded department store.

Tears! Mama will shed tears! Motherly tears from a heartbroken mom from a broken family with a broken kid who went berserk and broke a city's heart.

Now that's drama!

Not Drama (not to mention Not Worthy of National TV) would be the mundane story of husbands, wives, children, siblings and friends back there in the middle of Flyover Country, stuck in an overgrown cow town, wondering how to go on living after being gobsmacked by death.

After their loved ones' unfortunate encounter with the Maniac Whose Name Must Not Be Spoken.

Blow up your TV.

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Rambo Right sucks

The last post on the heroism displayed by so many of last week's Westroads massacre victims reminded me of how many movement (as in bowel) conservatives so covered themselves in ignominy after the April horror at Virginia Tech.

Everybody should be armed like the Israeli Army. Kids today are infantilized. Those being shot up in Norris Hall ought to have gone after Sueng-Hui Cho like Tennyson's Charge of the Light Brigade.

Half a league, half a league, half a league onward!

Well, here in Omaha, out on the edge of the forbidding plains, non-infantilized grown-ups stood up to the madman. They all died. They had to have known that they were going to.

They did whatever they could, knowing they'd die, in the name of trying to buy more time for others to get away. They tried to distract the madman, Robbie Hawkins. They tried to talk down the madman, Robbie Hawkins. They stood their ground, trying to guide the authorities to the madman, Robbie Hawkins.

None of them stood a chance. All of them became martyrs.

I'M SURE John Derbyshire, Mark Steyn and all their ilk would be so proud. I'm sure their breasts are swelling as I type, all those Rambo Right-Wingers who think they have the right to demand the martyrdom of strangers in far away places.

All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred:
'Forward, the Light Brigade!
Charge for the guns' he said:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

'Forward, the Light Brigade!'
Was there a man dismay'd ?
Not tho' the soldier knew
Some one had blunder'd:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do & die,
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

REMEMBER IN YOUR PRAYERS all those who died last week in my city. Remember especially those who so embodied Christ's Paschal sacrifice -- just in time for Christmas. Theirs was a sacrifice that only can be freely made, not offered up upon some ideologue's command.

No greater love

This is what, according to an article in the Omaha World-Herald, several of those gunned down at Omaha's Westroads Mall were doing at the moment they went to be with their God:
Firing away, the killer entered customer service, where he would end the carnage.

Hiding 15 feet from him was a 65-year-old grandfather and retired natural gas company manager, who suddenly emerged from the spot that concealed him and his wife and came into plain sight of the killer.

According to a family member's account given Sunday, John McDonald stood and confronted the 19-year-old gunman. It was a spontaneous act of courage that soon cost the Council Bluffs man his life, although it's possible that he helped spare more than a dozen people who were hiding nearby.

It appears that McDonald was one of the last of eight people killed by Robert Hawkins Wednesday at the Von Maur department store in the Westroads Mall.

Police are still investigating Omaha's worst single day of violence and have not determined the order in which Hawkins' victims fell.

McDonald was found in customer service, where Hawkins killed himself. An undisclosed number of rounds remained in his AK-47-style semiautomatic rifle.

Police released no new details of the rampage, but accounts Sunday from the families of McDonald and two other victims paint three portraits of courage in the face of chaos and terror.

The second involved Dianne Clavin Trent, the 53-year-old customer service worker who stayed on the phone with 911, describing the gunman until he took her life.

The third was customer Gary Scharf, 48, of Lincoln, who was on the first floor when he heard gunfire, ran up the escalator toward the carnage and shouted at Hawkins a floor above, "I called 911!"

All three were killed.

Omaha police declined Sunday to comment on the relatives' accounts. A spokesman for Omaha Mayor Mike Fahey said the scope of the crime, the number of detectives involved and the forensic evidence were too great at the moment to piece together exactly what happened and when.

Dr. Joe Shehan of Omaha, married to the only daughter of John and Kathy McDonald, said he bases his account on a detail that his mother-in-law shared in the car on their way home from the mall that day. It was a detail he forgot in the fog of grief and shock, and it is one Kathy McDonald left out of subsequent accounts until an Omaha police detective told the family what a hero they had in John McDonald:

That he left the hiding spot that concealed Kathy. That he left whatever protection that waiting room chair could offer as more than a dozen Von Maur employees huddled in fear in a back room that had no locking door and no other way out, should the gunman enter.

The police detective told McDonald's family that he stood and faced Hawkins. The gunman hadn't seen the McDonalds hiding when he entered, firing into customer service.

Hawkins struck four workers there and killed two, including Trent. She was telling a 911 dispatcher that "a young boy with glasses" was coming toward the counter.

"Oh my God!" she cried.

Her call ended with shots ringing in the background.

"Why she didn't drop that phone and run, we'll never know," said her sister, Kellie Schlecht.
AND WHAT was Robert A. Hawkins, 19 -- you know, the guy who wanted to "go out in style" -- doing right before he went to meet his Maker? He was gunning down unarmed, innocent people with a high-powered rifle in the Von Maur store at Westroads.

"Go out in style," indeed.

Cat's in the cradle . . . cat's in the cradle.

And as I hung up the phone it occurred to me
He'd grown up just like me
My boy was just like me
Or us and our sick little culture . . . as the case may be.

Requiescat in pace

From an
article in this afternoon's Omaha World Herald:

Sunshine peeked through winter's gray sky today, as mourners braved a bitter cold.

At churches in Omaha and Curtis, Neb., friends and family gathered to grieve the tragic loss of lives in Wednesday's Westroads Mall shooting.

Mothers cried for lost sons and daughters, children wept for parents and grandparents, and strangers came to pay their respects.

Omahans Janet D. Jorgensen, Dianne Clavin Trent and Gary Joy were laid to rest today, as were John V. McDonald of Council Bluffs and Gary Scharf of Lincoln.

"To lose a loved one is always hard," said the Rev. Harry Buse at the funeral for Trent this morning. "But to lose a loved one in such a violent and senseless way is particularly painful.

"This time, literally the whole world held you in their hearts. There were millions of hearts beating as one, sharing this huge loss."
DIANNE TRENT was a fellow parishioner at St. Leo's, and I stopped by her wake service there last night. The place was was as full as it usually is for a well-attended Mass.

Men and women wiped away tears as Dianne's eldest niece eulogized her murdered aunt, as the entire corps of nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews gathered behind the ambo in solidarity. By the time the eulogy was done, I was profoundly sad that I had never gotten to know Dianne, who I'm sure I had seen from time to time in the congregation at Mass.

Death. Sorrow. Regret.

Broken hearts and no second chances.

A GAPING HOLE in the fabric of life, a gash where a loved one ought to be. Where a loved one was just a few days ago.

All of this is what is left behind when a mentally ill, 19-year-old punk decides to "go out in style" amid a culture in love with violence and death -- a culture that turns out so much of what it loves most.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

This Grinch from Hell will not steal Christmas

Christmas is not the most wonderful time of the year in Hell.

Among the deadly hosts, yuletide is a mocking reminder of that awful day when their archenemy came as a little child to save mankind from their worldly maw. It's the yearly reminder of the terrible day they saw the handwriting on the sulfurous wall.

Christmas is almost as bad as Easter, that annual commemoration of the day Satan and all his demons got the official and final word that the jig was up.

The Evil One hates Christmas. And even though he knows he can't beat it, the devil still dedicates the franchise to bloodying it any way he can.

THIS YEAR IN OMAHA, our annual commemoration of the Lord's birth is looking rather like a fight scene from Raging Bull.

Bloodied. Battered.

But not beaten.

Evil came to my city this week, and it used a broken, disturbed and violent 19-year-old to murder the innocent, shatter their loved ones, terrorize hundreds and batter the hearts, hopes and dreams of us all. Evil came to Westroads Mall, announcing its arrival with the report of an assault rifle -- a pow pow pow that cut through the Christmas music on a department store's public-address system.

What black irony that lay in the heart of darkness.
However, says Isaiah . . .
The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.

Thou hast multiplied the nation, and not increased the joy: they joy before thee according to the joy in harvest, and as men rejoice when they divide the spoil.

For thou hast broken the yoke of his burden, and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, as in the day of Midian.

For every battle of the warrior is with confused noise, and garments rolled in blood; but this shall be with burning and fuel of fire.

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
THIS PRESENT DARKNESS will not prevail. The light will shine, even if through our tears. In Omaha this year, the devil and his tortured lackey will not steal Christmas. They can break our hearts, but they can't take away our joy.

Not this Christmas, and not next Christmas. And not the next, or the next after that.

Christmas, and the One Whose birth it celebrates, are bigger than evil, and their joy negates the despair of a lunatic kid who sought to kill the world.

Robert A. Hawkins cannot have Christmas. Neither can the devil. To hell with them. And to Hell with at least one of the two.

THE HORRIBLE NEWS came this week just as I was getting ready to put together the music for this week's edition of
the Revolution 21 podcast. To say the least, it put a crimp in things, which is why the show is a day late -- I didn't know what I was going to do with the podcast.

I could do a tribute show much like ones I've done in the past but, then again, going to the well over and over with that format can get old fast. And horrible things worthy of commemoration just keep happening. I couldn't -- can't -- ignore the horror in my own back yard, but. . . .

What sheer awfulness and irony that such a massacre would happen amid a season of great joy and good cheer. Really and truly, it has been almost too much to bear this week. And finally, this one thought hit me. Hard.

They cannot have Christmas.

They will not take the joy of Christmas from us. Not now. Not in Omaha.


THUS, Revolution 21 -- right now -- is repeating last year's Christmas program, replete with the joy of a Christmas I experienced long ago and far away. Where I once again am a child, and where loved ones long gone are alive again.

My prayer is that my yuletide reminiscence will bring on a few happy ones of your own. Sometimes, we find that our joy can become hidden amid the detritus of life in this vail of tears. But it's there; it just takes a little digging to get to it.

Christ is born in Bethlehem . . . no man, no principality, no power can undo that. Alleluia! There will be Christmas in Omaha, and we will rejoice in it.

And the devil -- he who prowls about the world seeking the ruin of souls -- can just go to Hell.

Merry Christmas, y'all.

Culture. Of. Death. Literally.

I wish I could say I was shocked.

But what do you expect from a culture so in love with death -- from abortion to euthanasia to capital punishment to virtual murder sprees via video game . . . to flesh-and-blood mass murder by real-life terrorists on college campuses and in shopping malls bedecked in red-and-green Christmas cheer.

it's come to this, as reported by The Daily Collegian at Penn State:
All it took were a couple of pictures posted on the Internet. Mere hours after a Virginia television station reported that Penn State students had uploaded pictures of Halloween partygoers dressing as Virginia Tech shooting victims, criticism exploded from both campuses, with one group denouncing the costumes reaching 4,100 members as of 2 a.m. this morning.

The only publicly accessible picture, uploaded after Halloween, shows a woman wearing an orange Virginia Tech T-shirt smeared with blood and a bullet wound, posing jauntily. According to television station WSLS in Roanoke, Va., several other pictures showed a similarly attired man.

For Virginia Tech students still shaken by a tragedy not yet a year old, the pictures are a slap in the face from students of a university they once lauded for its sensitivity and compassion in the wake of their loss.

University spokesman Bill Mahon, who released a statement to the Blacksburg, Va. campus, said he was shocked by the pictures.

"I certainly find it appalling, as most Penn Staters would find it appalling," he said. He said he believes it happened "off campus, in a private party."

Caitlin Beckett, a sophomore majoring in finance at Virginia Tech, agreed. Learning of the pictures several hours before she was interviewed, she said it was too painful to join the group protesting against it. Her friend, Mary Read, then 19, died in the shootings.

"I just didn't want to think about it -- it's just kind of sickening," she said. "You would think that people, after what happened, would have more respect than that ... even if it happened after five years, it wouldn't be OK."

Virginia Tech freshman Krista Silano wasn't a student at the university when Cho Seung Hui shot and killed 32 students last April, but she remembers the wave of loss and grief that struck the town.

She attended a memorial service with her high school lacrosse team.

"It's going to affect everyone who was affected or even just goes here," she said. "I didn't think that would ever happen from any community. I didn't think anyone would make light of the subject."
TWO DAYS AGO, eight people who didn't deserve it -- as if anyone does -- got blown away by a madman in a shopping mall a mile from where I sit. A woman who has done my wife's hair for probably 15 years, and who has become a friend of hers over those years, hid in the women's room on the third floor of the Von Maur store as Robert Hawkins slaughtered people mere yards away.

This woman helped to fashion a tourniquet out of a man's necktie to stanch the blood flowing from his shot-up arm.

I have no sympathy for the "shock value" antics from a bunch of a**holes at Penn State University.

BY GOD'S GRACE, they laughingly apply fake bullet holes to their own torsos and heads, and coat their bodies with phony blood. By God's grace, they were not in Von Maur at Westroads Mall, nor were they in Norris Hall at Virginia Tech.

God is holy and merciful. I am neither. If it were left up to my grace. . . .

Friday, December 07, 2007

Demon: Hunter

This is what the devil looks like. At least it's what he looked like Wednesday afternoon.

WE GET THIS VIEW from Von Maur department store surveillance video, following the release of still photos from those recordings by Omaha police. In those stills, we see that Satan is a 19-year-old kid

(or is he 20, given the conflicting age reports?), more than a little crazy, and not exactly a natty dresser.

We also sees that Satan's preferred weapon against the humanity he so hates is an old semiautomatic rifle. To clarify, the Russian firearm was the devil's favored weapon two days ago. He likes to switch around and experiment a lot, depending on the situation.

The devil looks like a real loser. Then again, Satan is a real loser -- as we shall see in the fullness of time.

This is not a popular viewpoint in Therapeutic America, where people no longer commit evil, they merely make mistakes. Like Robert A. Hawkins walked into Von Maur with that rifle hidden under his sweats, got in the elevator, rode to the third floor and misguidedly gunned down eight innocent people before making the poor choice of blowing his own brains out. There is little doubt that Robbie Hawkins was a deeply disturbed young man, driven by faulty brain chemistry, inadequate socialization or God-knows-what to make one "poor choice" after another during the course of his tormented time on Earth.

Likewise, there is little doubt that young Mr. Hawkins, future terrorist and mass murderer, was failed by a lot of people and institutions along the way. While some mentally ill people may well be born a taco shy of a combination plate, I think it takes a village to take a lunatic and turn him into a mass murderer.

IT TAKES the hard work of "powers and principalities," too. The trouble with Therapeutic America is it doesn't deal so well with the mystery of evil. That enigmatic force that can take a disturbed young doper and dropout and turn him into a murderous ball of resentment, hatred and despair.

One capable of walking into Westroads Mall and ending the hopes, dreams, passions and lives of eight people who never did a thing to the man who hunted them like game in the woods.
A society that seeks to assign blame for a killer's actions to everyone and everything but the killer himself ironically is unable to deal with the source and summit of horrors like that in Omaha this week: The devil, who really did make Robbie Hawkins do it.

If I understand how things like this work -- which I think I do -- Hawkins' extreme mental and emotional instability would be just the chink in a person's armor that the devil really
can exploit . . . in this case, to spectacular effect. For instance, the devil probably had a hand in handing Robbie Hawkins his first joint. And his first beer.

SATAN PROBABLY WORKED a little overtime to get him into the house of a woman alleged to have tolerated impressive levels of toking and boozing by the teens under her roof. I know Satan and his junior demons have put in significant overtime in turning the United States into a nation awash in drugs, illicit sex, rampant violence (and the adoration thereof) and materialism so pervasive that it not only warps how we live, but also who we are. It wasn't for nothing that Jesus warned us that a camel can pass through the eye of a needle more easily that a rich man can get into Heaven.

Living in America is a damned hard spiritual slog for Average Joes like you and me. Imagine what it became for a broken vessel like Robbie Hawkins.
Well, none of us has to imagine anymore, do we?

Hawkins had help in becoming the monster on the nightly news, that is true. He had help from the devil in us, as well as the devil on his shoulder. This is an assertion that, to modern ears, sounds positively medieval. It flies in the face of modern science, and it is an affront to our Western reluctance to deal with all that religious s***.

Science can explain brain chemistry, more or less. Science, however, can't unravel the mystery of the evil that descended upon Westroads Mall on Wednesday. That takes a medieval mindset.

One that knows about the devil whispering words of hate to a whacked-out kid. One that knows that during Omaha's blackest hour, a troubled soul surrendered itself to the prince of darkness and became one with Death. One with the devil.

It takes a worldview medieval enough to know that when Satan figured he'd gotten all the due he was going to get on the third floor of Von Maur, he climbed back out and back up onto Robbie Hawkins' shoulder. And then he whispered in Robbie's ear:

"Do it, faggot. Do eeeeet."

Thursday, December 06, 2007

'Dave . . . my mind is going. I can feel it.'

As was obvious to anyone who tried to log into the Omaha World-Herald's website,, during Wednesday's chaos in the Big O, the newspaper was having itself some HAL 9000 problems.

No word yet on casualties at 14th and Douglas.

media watch blog of the alternative City Weekly took keen notice as well, linking to a West Coast media exec's scathing blog entry about
The problems the Omaha World-Herald's online portal,, has had in handling large amounts of visitor traffic have been well documented. But now, more than just Nebraskans are taking notice.

"Reflections of a Newsosaur" is a blog written by Silicon Valley CEO Alan D. Mutter. The former city editor of the Chicago Sun-Times later became the second-in-command editor of the San Francisco Chronicle. Today, he is a managing partner of Tapit Partners, a two-man, think-tank that helps business owners create successful companies.

In a post titled, "Flat-footed in Omaha," Mutter takes the paper to task for problems he says were not technical, but editorial.

"The poor coverage evidently was caused by a lack of contingency planning on the part of editors, web producers, reporters, photographers and all the other people who are responsible for rapidly, thoughtfully and accurately gathering the information and visual assets necessary to tell a story like this in the age of multimedia."
FOLLOW THE LINK if you have a strong stomach, because the keelhauling to which Mutter subjects the hometown rag would make even Dick Cheney squeamish.

Thing is, the World-Herald didn't need no Blue State techno guru to hit it with the painfully obvious.
I already did.

Back in May.

IT'S NOT THAT I'm comfortable with blowing my own horn -- or even particularly looking to do so. It's more a plea for recognition that maybe one or two of us here in Flyover Country might have a couple of brain cells to rub together, too.

Yep, we do obvious as well as anybody.

Uh huh.

Teen-age Baghdad?

In the aftermath of Wednesday's mall massacre in Omaha, some things are starting to emerge from the haze of chaos and the numbness of shock.

FOR EXAMPLE, it's really starting to look like something is seriously not right in Robert Hawkins' "posse." The problem, however, in what seems to be a Bellevue, Neb., feedback loop of whack is not that there are kids out there who have issues.

The problem would appear to be that there are kids out there with issues immersed in an absolutely pathological culture -- one, as I said earlier, obsessed with all the wrong things. Not even a day after Hawkins massacred eight people, then himself, at the Von Maur at Westroads Mall, another one of his circle has been arrested on felony counts.

a story by Jason Kuiper in the Omaha World-Herald:

A 17-year-old Bellevue boy was arrested after being accused of threatening a girl whom he said made comments relating to Wednesday's fatal shootings at Von Maur.

David S. Horvath, of 3016 JoAnn Ave. in Bellevue, was taken into custody Thursday afternoon and brought to the Sarpy County Juvenile Justice Center.

Bellevue Police Chief John Stacey said officers went to Horvath's house Thursday to investigate a girl's report that Horvath threatened her for making disparaging remarks about his close friend, Robert Hawkins. Officials say Hawkins shot and killed eight people at Von Maur at the Westroads Mall on Wednesday afternoon before killing himself.

Stacey said officers arrested Horvath on suspicion of making felony terroristic threats. The officers also confiscated two shotguns and a rifle from the house, he said.
THERE IS SOMETHING of a striking comparison to be made in all this. If what Robbie Hawkins did Wednesday is fundamentally no different from what a jihadi terrorist does, then how is what his buddy is alleged to have done much different from what Iraqi sectarian militias do?

Just asking the uncomfortable questions, here.