[Guest post by DRJ]
UPDATE 12/6/2007: Title altered to reflect a more recent news report regarding the contents of a note left by the perpetrator.
Fox News reports that a 19-year-old man with a rifle opened fire today in a Westroads Mall department store in Omaha, Nebraska, killing 8 and wounding 5 before taking his own life:
“A man with a rifle opened fire at a busy Omaha shopping mall Wednesday, killing eight people before taking his own life, police said. Five others were wounded, two critically.
The alleged shooter, a 19-year-old man, left a suicide note stating, “I’m going out in style,” a local news station reported. The man’s vehicle was found in the parking lot.
Shoppers and employees ran screaming through the Westroads Mall and barricaded themselves in dressing rooms after hearing gunfire. The gunman was found dead on the third floor of the Von Maur store with a self-inflicted gunshot wound, and his victims were discovered on the second and third floors, police said.
Witnesses said the gunman fired down on shoppers from a third-floor balcony of the Von Maur store.
Sgt. Teresa Negron said the gunman killed eight people, then apparently killed himself. His name was not immediately released, and authorities gave no motive for the attack and did not know whether he said anything during the rampage.
Police received a 911 call from someone inside the mall, and shots could be heard in the background, Negron said. By the time officers arrived six minutes later, the shooting was over, she said.”
Witnesses reported hearing “dozens and dozens” of shots. The incident coincides with a recent report of a grenade on Mall property and today’s visit to Omaha by President Bush for a fundraiser:
“The sprawling, three-level mall has more than 135 stores and restaurants, according to the Web site for General Growth Properties, the manager of the mall. It gets 14.5 million visitors every year, according to the Web site.
On Friday night, authorities removed a live granade from the parking lot of the same mall.
President Bush was in town Wednesday for a fundraiser in Omaha, but left about an hour before the shooting.”
We look for answers to help us understand “Why?” when events like this happen. If this is like many cases, there will be reports that this man was troubled or had a history of altercations, bullying, etc., or encouragement for broader concealed carry laws, or demands for better gun control and more security in public places.
At the end of the day, however, I think the most practical answer is to hope family, friends, teachers and/or co-workers speak up if they believe someone poses a threat to others. Unfortunately, sometimes there are no warnings.