Today marks one year since a teenage gunman opened fire in an Omaha shopping mall, killing eight people and wounding four others before killing himself. Two Iowans were among the victims. Dr. Scot Adams is the director of Nebraska’s Division of Behavioral Health and says people in both states who were impacted by the shootings should prepare for a flood of memories regarding the rampage.
Adams says, “We anticipate some of the people will experience some strong reactions and others mild reaction related to the anniversary of the shooting.” He says if a person feels the need to talk about the tragedy, it’s best to let it out.
“Talking about it with friends is a helpful element, not to stuff the feelings down but to be able to talk about it, to express grief and sadness again,” he says. Adams says it’s common to feel grief and the one-year reminder can also create fear and anxiety.
He says, “It’s a normal, natural, human reaction to have those feelings and to be able to talk about them and express them with family and friends is a helpful thing for many people.” Adams says if anyone experiences a severe emotional reaction to the anniversary, they should reach out for professional help. He says December 5, 2007 won’t be forgotten by anyone in the Omaha/Council Bluffs area.
He says: “It is a big wound and I suspect it will remain so for a long, long time. For the community as a whole, it will be one of the most infamous days of Nebraska history.” Eight people were fatally shot by 19-year-old Robert Hawkins inside the Von Maur store at Westroads Mall in Omaha on December 5th, 2007. Hawkins also killed himself. An Iowan was among those killed — 65-year-old John McDonald of Council Bluffs. Four shooting victims survived, including Iowan Fred Wilson, who was critically hurt. Wilson, a retired Council Bluffs teacher, worked at the store’s customer service counter.
Davenport-based Von Maur is selling lapel pins to mark the event, with all proceeds going to Omaha/Council Bluffs charities. The gold-colored ribbon-shaped pins simply state “We Remember” and are available through the holiday season at all 22 Von Maur stores in Iowa, Nebraska and seven other states. The first Von Maur store opened in Davenport in 1872.