A former school teacher from Iowa, who was critically wounded in the Omaha mall shooting earlier this month, could be released from the hospital soon. Sixty-one year old Fred Wilson spoke with reporters at Nebraska Medical Center today. The Monroe, Iowa native is recovering from gunshot wounds to his right arm and shoulder.
The employee of Von Maur at Westroads mall recalled the December 5 incident. "Just out of the blue, suddenly there was a popping sound in the store," Wilson said, "this sound was different and we knew that it was gunfire." Wilson said he was crouching down behind the customer service counter when he saw a young man walking his way, "I thought ‘didn’t this young man hear the shots? Shouldn’t he be taking shelter?’ Then I realized he was the shooter."
The gunman, later identified as 19-year-old Robert Hawkins, killed 8 people before taking his own life. Wilson, who nearly bled to death, says he forgives Hawkins. Wilson explained, "I have no anger what so ever toward Robert Hawkins. He was in need of help. He was ill." Wilson broke down in tears as he talked about several of his co-workers that were killed.
Wilson says it will be difficult, but he expects to return to his job at Von Maur. "I have to accept what I’ve been dealt first of all," Wilson said of the emotional recovery, "and I’m very open to that. I say ‘bring it on.’ I want to be a better person, a bigger person…I want to appreciate things more." Wilson is right-handed and doctors say that arm’s function may be lost.
Prior to his employment at Von Maur, Wilson taught English, speech and theatre classes at high schools in Clear Lake, Shenandoah and Council Bluffs.