Thursday, December 6, 2007

Price of Fame; Profile of A Killer (Robert Hawkins) -by Legal Pub Update 12-7

Fame. I want to live forever. I want to touch the sky. Fame...

In Omaha, Nebraska, the price of fame has been revealed as the profile of a killer is unraveled. Headlines tell the reader that 19 year old Robert Hawkins went to the mall that day sporting a military-style haircut (Hawkins had recently cut his long hair), black backpack, and a camouflage vest. Hawkins then fired a rifle at a department store from a third floor balcony of the Von Maur store killing eight people and terrorizing holiday shoppers. He then killed himself. But why?

Robert Hawkins' answered the question in a few short written words: "Now I'll be famous."
Hawkins achieved his warped goal with the aid of a SKS assault rifle. (ABC has reported that it is an AK 47) Omaha Police Chief Thomas Warren opines that the shooting was random and provided no motive for the attack. But one needs little help from Chief Warren to reach some strong opinions. Hawkins was ostracized by his family about a year ago. Hawkins moved to Bellevue to live with Deborah Maruca-Kovac and her husband who were parents of his friend. Debora Maruca-Kovac and her husband apparently welcomed Hawkins.
Deborah Maruca-Kovac told the Associated Press, "When he first came in the house, he was introverted, a troubled young man who was like a lost pound puppy that nobody wanted." Upon further inquiry, it turns out that Hawkins was fired from his job at a McDonald's the week of the shootings. (Apparently $17 was missing.) In addition, he had broken up with a longtime girlfriend two weeks before the shooting. Hawkins apparently had phoned his ex-girlfriend about 1 p.m. on Wednesday. He apparently told her that he had left a note for her in his bedroom according to CNN.

The ex-girlfriend apparently called Hawkins' mother and then retrieved the note from Maruca-Kovacs' house. The note apparently said, Hawkins was "sorry for everything," and would no longer be a burden on his family. It also predicted, "Now I'll be famous."

Keith Fidler, a Von Maur employee, said he heard five to six shots followed by 15 to 20 more. rounds. Shawn Vidlak said the shots sounded like a nail gun

Maruca-Kovac apparently turned the note over to authorities and went to work at the Nebraska Medical Center. Several hours later, shooting victims were brought to Nebraska Medical Center which apparently cared for three victims and Creighton University Medical Center which cared for three others.

President Bush had been in Omaha earlier in the day for a fundraiser, but had left before the shooting. This was the second mall shooting this year. In February, nine people were shot, five of them fatally, at Trolley Square mall in Salt Lake City by 18-year-old Sulejman Talovic, who was killed by police.

The price of fame? Much too high when innocent lives are taken.
Update 12-7: In 2002 Hawkins apparently threatened to kill his step mom. This was apparently a troubled youth that needed help and supervision.


Anonymous said...

Sure, hind sight is always 20/20. But who could have predicted this at the time?

Bobbie C. said...

Qualilty articles like this are why I read legal pub!

Bobbie C.

Ms. Calabaza said...

What's upsetting to me is why this clinically depressed young man was abandoned by his parents. Some parents seem to feel once a child is 18, they are adults and should be on their own. These kids are not prepared for a life alone. Sure, hindsight is 20/20 but I wish more parents would think twice before throwing a kid out of their home.

Ms. Calabaza said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
blond bombshell said...

So right, Ms. C. It appears the parents gave up on the kid. There is a difference between tough love and abandoning a mentally distressed child.


Anonymous said...

Ironically there is also a comedian named Robert Hawkins and a boxer named Robert Hawkins.

Perhaps this young man was frustrated that his name did not rank high enough on Google.

Everyone has a cost for fame. His was mental illness resulting in death of others.

Congrats, you sick moron, now you have top billing on Google.


Anonymous said...

technical point, there is no such thing as an "SKS assault rifle"
"assault rifles" are machine guns, and the public is generally prohibited from owning them

Anonymous said...

tough words there bombshell.
I'm sure you're an expert at discerning when a 18+ yo "mentally distressed child" needs professional help

Legal Pub said...

More information has surfaced since this morning. Two weeks ago Hawkins'long-term girlfriend dumped him. Last week he was fired by McDonalds over $17 that was allegedly missing. Hawkins was also awaiting a court date later this month for underage possession of alcohol.

Hawkins had dropped out of Papillion-La Vista High School. His criminal record apparently included one drug conviction and several misdemeanors. His recent arrest for underage possession of alcohol came 11 days before the shootings.

On the other hand, since dropping out of school he had got a steady job (McDonalds), passed his driving test and earned a high school GED. Mrs Maruca-Kovac apparently thought he was improving up until the recent problems. She described Hawkins as chronically depressed but recently seemed better.

Police believe Hawkins stole the assault rifle, an AK-47, from his stepfather's home, according to ABC.

Anonymous said...

Iron Mike said...

Not real sure about Shell's qualifications, but I have heard that she has dated some real nut cases over the years. Let me add, she also talks about flying people around on her broomstick. Furthermore probably anyone who has ever dated her has become depressed, so consequently, she is as darn close to an expert on mental distress as it comes in my view.

Iron Mike

Anonymous said...

Again, a technical note but one worth correcting.

I understand that the carbine pictured by Legal Pub is an accurate representation of the weapon used. And that’s right; it’s a carbine not a rifle. And further, it’s not an assault rifle. Assault rifles are, for all practicable purposes, illegal to possess.

A rifle is a long, usually heavy weapon firing a full power cartridge capable of long range, high power precision work. The SKS carbine used to commit this crime is not a rifle in the real sense of the word.

An assault rifle is a carbine length (which the SKS is) weapon, firing a cartridge of intermediate power and range (which the SKS does), and is capable of fully automatic fire (which the SKS can not).

Sad, sad, sad.

But as we go through this “figuring out what the hell happened” let’s get our information right.


Legal Pub said...

L.S. Can we do a little update with an interview from you and defer to your expertise?

1. CBS and AP reported the gun as a "SKS Assault Rifle." ABC called the firearm an AK 47 allegedly stolen from Hawkins's step father.
Which is right or neither? Tell us a little about the weapon you believe was used.

2. Would the use of metal detectors at the entrance of malls be feasible?

3. Would it prevent crimes like this?

4. Should malls employ security guards armed with rifles?

5. Should mall security guards be required to have swat back grounds?

6. What would make malls more safe in your opinion.


Legal Pub said...

L.S. Can we do a little update with an interview from you and defer to your expertise?

1. CBS and AP reported the gun as a "SKS Assault Rifle." ABC called the firearm an AK 47 allegedly stolen from Hawkins's step father.
Which is right or neither? Tell us a little about the weapon you believe was used.

2. Would the use of metal detectors at the entrance of malls be feasible?

3. Would it prevent crimes like this?

4. Should malls employ security guards armed with rifles?

5. Should mall security guards be required to have swat back grounds?

6. What would make malls more safe in your opinion.


Anonymous said...

I would not call myself an expert. I know experts and my knowledge pales in comparison to them. But I do know enough not to call a SKS an assault rifle!

I don’t know what weapon was used but there does seem to be agreement around a SKS. But it’s not an assault rifle. There was never a selective fire SKS made. So if it’s a SKS it can’t be an assault rifle. So those who say so are flat wrong.

It could be an AK47 but I’d doubt it. They’re seldom seen, cost many tens of thousand of dollars and the licensing requirements are odious. I’m reasonably confidant that if it was an AK47 that we’d already know who it was registered to. I’d doubt that anybody who has one would leave it around where a sick kid could lay hands on it.

Just a guess, but it’s probably a SKS carbine or a look alike (not selective fire) AK47.

I just get tired of the media reporting on 4-wheeled motorcycles!

As to all the other questions, it’s going to come do to money. Would 16 SWAT teams at the mall help keep it safer? Sure. But where’s the money come from?

What going to make malls safe? The cheapest thing they can get away with!

Sorry can’t give more than that.


colleency said...

I've known parents (and mental health professionals) who advocate the 'tough love' of kicking a kid out at 18 if he's not following The Rules. I agree with Ms. C - kids with mental problems arent' ready to handle the World on their own.

Do we know that the parents kicked him out? The family he was staying with sounds like kind-hearted people who provided enough structure / support for him to acheive some goals (GED, driving). (LP - do they face any liability in not preventing the shooting?)

Maybe the dynamics with his parents just weren't working - maybe they spoke to his friend's family, and helped arrange for him to stay in a 'safe' place.

Tragic that no one saw it coming.

Where does the anger of these kids (SLC, VaTech) come from???

colleency said...

Just saw an interview with the gunman's 2 friends ...

He threatened to kill his stepmother when he was 14; has been in 'The System' since 8th grade, foster homes, etc ...

Friends said he was gentle, and kind to animals, and they are in shock.

So tragic that in the end, he focused on what was missing in his life, rather than the goodness that was there in equal measure ...

Legal Pub said...

L.S. Good update and answers. CNN called it his step dad's AK47 on Headline news.Who knows?

Colleency, good observation. Tough call tough love v. abandonment.

The profile of this killer includes prior threats to kill his step mom.


Anonymous said...

What is a 18 yr old Teenager who is depressed doing with a Assault rifle? how come his stepfather didn't have the weapon properly locked away?

who's to blame for this even getting started?

sure the Constitution doesn't need to be updated? and abolish the "Right to bare arms" crap?

Anonymous said...

When will people in this country realize that the second ammendment was appropriate when fighting the british when there was no organized military force, rather a militia. With all do respect, i think the underlying issue here is the EASE of obtaining fire arms in this country! How many more innocent people need to tragically die before someone stands up and says something! This makes me so sick to my stomach.

How many more public/mall/school shootings must occur before people have had enough?!

When will politicians start supporting laws prohibiting or at least limiting the amount of firearms that can be obtained in this country! Instead it seems, its better to support guns, and get votes, even if innocent lives are at stake. How disgusting.

My deepest condolences to the families of the victims.

Anonymous said...

I am an outsider in this country. I have been acquainted with the society of the United States only for past seven years. I have seen both good and bad. But what strikes me the most is its violent side. I have never seen or known so much domestic violence and childhood violence in my country(India). We maintain a much lower standard of life out there. But in spite of that our youth is happy, protected by parents and family, no matter whether one is successful or not, whether one is famous or not. I never knew the word "depression" before I came here. I teach in a university. I have seen troubled lives like this mall shooter among my students. I have seen smart students making poor performance because they cannot balance between their classes and their jobs. At young age, they need to support their family, maintain their job and at the same time do well in classes. Many need to go for counseling due to such tremendous mental and physical pressure. I don't think that teen agers, no matter whether they are mentally stable or not, are able to handle so many demands of life alone. I fail to understand the concept of "tough love". Back in my country, parents will be surprised to hear that love can be tough or soft!! In a country poor like India, one has to face so many obstacles. Yet violence like this is so rare. A loving family is always there to accept even the most worthless one.
What is the use of gun control? Isn't there other means of violence? If the cause remains there, treating symptoms will yield no result.

How can we expect sense of responsibility towards society from a person rejected by the society itself?

I am heartbroken by this incident. My sympathy goes to the innocent people who lost their loved ones. My sympathy also goes to the misguided, rejected, troubled life who did not know what to do.

Anonymous said...

i beg to differ...

gun control can reduce many innocent deaths.

" American children are more at risk from firearms than the children of any other industrialized nation. In one year, firearms killed no children in Japan, 19 in Great Britain, 57 in Germany, 109 in France, 153 in Canada, and 5,285 in the United States. (Centers for Disease Control)".

Anonymous said...

I agree. What I wanted to mean is ONLY controlling guns will not help much. I have seen many violent incidents without any firearm. I wonder why people turn to violence towards innocent people when they are depressed or frustrated or angry?

Anonymous said...

Agreed. By no means was i implying that gun control solely would solve this problem. However, i do think its a very important step in the fight against violence in this country.

Anonymous said...

this kid is getting exactly what he wanted-- now he is famous!! the media needs to stop glorifying this teen killers and publishing their pictures and all the details of their private lives. if it doesn't stop soon, more angst ridden teens starved for attention are going to keep going to violent lengths for it! enough is enough!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

"i beg to differ...

gun control can reduce many innocent deaths."

You can beg to differ all you want. All of the recent high quality scholarship (CDC, NAS, Harvard Law) has shown that gun control does NOT reduce deaths. In fact, gun control exacerbates violence, as can readily be shown following a gun ban in any number of cities, states, and countries.

Furthermore, gun control abetted this particular mall shooting...the mall, after all, HAD gun control. It was posted against carrying of guns by licensed concealed carry holders. In other words, this "gun free zone" (AKA "victim-disarmament" or "criminal-empowerment" zone) zone was a ripe target for a crazy kid. If you want to nip a mall shooting in the bud, make sure that there are good people with guns around to stop it.

Anonymous said...

Well.. But there are anxious parents, innocent neighbors and friends of such troubled teens amongst the aundience of media. Don't we deserve an explanation of such an event? Don't we need to look into our own lives, own children and our friends and analyze whether there is any potential danger?

We must need an answer to the question: Why did this guy do that? Without enough information how shall we able to detect any problem child and offer help?

Media is there to provide us with information. It is our perspective of life that will determine what to do with this information. People with good intention will use this information for good deed while troubled misguided teens will get misguided all the more!!

Violence is a disease. Treat the cause, not ONLY the symptoms.

Anonymous said...

Why am I not surprised this has deteriorated into to a gun control debate. Oh well…

Criminals are criminals…it’s what they do. And anyone who is foolish enough to believe that they’re going to violate all of God’s laws and those of men as well, and all of a sudden obey the one gun control law that’s applicable, is lacking real world experience. Naivety I think they call it.

All gun control laws do is disarm the law-abiding populace and leave the cops and criminals armed. Period. Not bad if you’re a cop or a criminal, pretty bad for anybody else. They create “victim zones”, full of sheepeople for the killing.

I say this as a cop…you know, the ones who run toward the gunfire.

And the Constitution does recognize the God given right to arm oneself. Read the history behind what was written and why and the conclusion is inescapable. I understand this is separate from if we need to change it, but it is what it is.

Our revolution with the British was about gun control. When Paul Revere rode and shouted the British are coming, he was talking about their coming to take the weapons from the citizens. Up until then it was pretty mild, it was the attempt to disarm that sparked the “shot heard ‘round the world”.

Yes, cars kill. But we accept them because they are beneficial to our society. Many other items kill, but we accept them because we want them. Hell, in Florida I think the last figures are swimming polls are 8 times as likely to kill kids as guns!

Google, “the primary purpose of the Second Amendment is so that, as a last resort, the American people can defend themselves against tyranny in government” and see what you get. With the 2nd, all the others are enforceable rights. Without it, they’re privileges.

Yes, guns do kill. But they serve a social purpose equal to their costs. As do swimming pools, cars, planes, etc.

The day they outlaw guns, I’ll turn in my badge and my bar card…and I’ll meet ‘em armed on the village green!

No, it’s got more to do about absent parents more interested in both parents working so they can get “stuff” than raising their children. It’s about a lack of interactive, participatory, available parents. It’s about a culture that glorifies violence in video games, movies, etc. A breakdown of family values, a lack of religious beliefs, a…..

There are many factors, to say it is the gun…and only the gun…is to miss an opportunity to work on the real contributory factors in play here.

Juts my two cents.

Outsider said...

Again me! An outsider! There are so many anonymous people here that I decided to take a nickname.

Anyway! I remember an incident when a 10 year old boy killed a 4 year old child by hitting on head with a bat! I remember some rich kid, relative of John Kennedy, killing a girl just by beating.. There are so many incidents like this in United States. Violence without any firearm!! I remember the incident of a Texas mother who drowned her own children!

I ask "Why?" and I get no answer.. I am so deeply saddened by all these memories of violence!

Anonymous said...

The kid was a loser. If we truly wanted to ease the burden on those around himself he could have kindly and quietly taken his own life. He has placed a burden on many innocent families instead; that is what is so upsetting to me.

Anonymous said...

To all of those who wish to abrogate the Constitution, remove the rights of all to punish the actions of the few, consider this. That rationale can just as well be applied very easily to a civil right that you do value. Value your privacy? Well, terrorists require privacy to further their goals, including private communications. So do criminals. Just think of all the mayhem that could be prevented if we gave up our 4th Amendment rights. How about your right to free speech? Religion? If everyone were forced to be of the same religion, or no religion, and all dissent from commonly accepted practices,thought, and social intellect were squashed, why our crime rate would be as low as Cuba's.

Anyone who wants to give up their rights because of the actions of the latest madman/loser, you go for
it. I'm keeping mine. No hokey clich├ęs about my cold dead fingers. That's just the way it is going to be.

Ms. Calabaza said...

Dear Outsider:

I understand your concern and the only logic I can find in the violence in our country is Abraham Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. Dr. Maslow is known as the father of Humanistic Psychology and was an American Psychologist who is known primarily for his theory that postulated that needs are arranged in a hierarchy in terms of their potency. Although all needs are instinctive, some are more powerful than others.

It's fascinating to read and makes a great deal of sense to me. As you stated, a young man who is struggling to survive has very little time to be depressed.

We have so much in our country with regards to materalism and options but have less perhaps than other parts of the world in extended family and human support.

Maslow is an interesting read. Just my thoughts.

colleency said...

Welcome, Outsider! - I appreciate hearing the observations of someone 'new' to the US.

I'm not convinced that the problem is too many expectations on teens (school, work). In many countries, even younger children go to school and help support their families - farming or herding chores that are crucial to the families' survival. I've not heard of a teen from such a place 'snapping' and lashing out in violence.

The difference may be that in such places, the child KNOWS he is valuable, knows that he has an important role to fill, and he is united - with his family - in working for their mutual well-being.

Do our kids know that?

I wonder if glorifying The Individual has somehow overshadowed the bigger 'belonging', to family and society.

LS brought up the many 'absent' parents, both working to provide 'things' (the best of everything!) for their kids. The kids feel relegated to the perifery of their parents lives.

Be careful where you put your Time. Let it match where you put your Heart.

colleency said...

Hey Ms. C., I think our broomsticks were on the same path at the same time! : )

My question (more concisely) -

Each generation of Americans wants to make life easier for the next.

In making life easier for our children, have we made it better???

Legal Pub said...

Outsider, Colleency and Ms. Calabaza bring with them much understanding and much wisdom.

The world is not perfect. Sometimes bad things happen to nice people. Some people are sick and do bad things. It is that simple.

The hard part is asking one's self, what can I do to make this world a better place and then doing it.


Legal Pub said...

To all the anonymous posters, welcome. Keep anonymous but feel free to use nicknames or initials etc so that other posters can respond to your posts. Thanks.

jill said...

He did it all for the glory of fame...

That sucks.


Outsider said...

Are you a Christian? Don't you remember what Jesus wanted to preach? Hate crime, not the criminal, especially like this one who was abandoned by his family. It is not our right nor responsibility to judge somebody, no matter how nasty thing he has done. All we need to do is to extend hand of help wherever possible.

Anonymous said...

You are right about Jesus and his word of forgiveness. But Jesus also said God helps those who help themselves.

These suicidal people who want to gain fame by terrorism need to be shot down in their tracks. Additional security armed with swat training will reduce the number of victims and eliminate the glory of these attacks.


jon said...

Such attention getting methods like murder are a waste of lives and souls.


Anonymous said...

Hawkins should have been locked up in an insane asylum long before this killing!

Anonymous said...

Good job of peeking into the mind of a psycho killer...

Anonymous said...

Seems like Hawkins just snapped.