Thursday, December 6, 2007

Mall shooter's suicide note: Now I'll be famous

OMAHA, Nebraska (CNN) -- A 19-year-old gunman who police said killed eight people and then himself at a Nebraska mall left a suicide note predicting the shootings would make him famous, his landlord said.

Police have identified the gunman as Robert A. Hawkins, 19, of Nebraska.

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Five other people were injured, and two of them were in critical condition, hospital officials said.
The shootings inside the Von Maur department store at the popular Westroads Mall in Omaha sent panicked holiday shoppers fleeing for cover.
"It was just so loud, and then it was silence," said witness Jennifer Kramer, who hid behind a clothing rack. "I was scared to death he'd be walking around looking for someone else."
Police identified the gunman as Robert A. Hawkins of Nebraska.
Chief Thomas Warren of the Omaha Police Department called the shooting "premeditated," but said it "appears to be very random and without provocation."
Debora Maruca Kovac, Hawkins' landlord, said she found the suicide note after getting a phone call from Hawkins about 1 p.m., just minutes before the shootings. Watch landlord describe phone call from shooter »
"He basically said how sorry he was for everything," Maruca Kovac said of the note. "He didn't want to be a burden to people and that he was a piece of s--- all of his life and that now he'd be famous."
She said Hawkins was a friend of her sons and "reminded me of a lost puppy that nobody wanted." He came to live with her about a year and a half ago, telling her he could not stay with his own family because of "some issues with his stepmother."
She described Hawkins as well-behaved, although "he had a lot of emotional problems, obviously."
The shootings began about 1:42 p.m. (2:42 p.m. ET).
Seven people were found dead at the scene by officers who arrived six minutes later; two others, a male and a female, died after being transported to Creighton University Medical Center, said Fire Chief Robert Dahlquist.
A Creighton spokeswoman said a second female underwent surgery and was in critical condition Wednesday afternoon.
Three other people were taken to the University of Nebraska Medical Center.
One, a 61-year-old man who sustained a chest wound after being shot in the armpit, had surgery and remained in critical condition in the intensive care unit Wednesday night, said hospital spokeswoman Maggie O'Brien.
The other two -- a 34-year-old man who was shot in the arm, and a 55-year-old man who fell and struck a clothing rack as he was trying to escape -- were treated and released, she said.
Warren said Hawkins was armed with an SKS assault rifle. His body, and the weapon, were found on the store's third floor, he said.
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Maruca Kovac told CNN that Hawkins left the house Wednesday about 11 a.m., and called the house about two hours later, sounding upset.
"He just said he wanted to thank me for everything I'd done for him ... and he was sorry," Maruca Kovac said. He told her he had gotten fired from his job at a McDonald's restaurant, she said.
"I said, 'Come home and we'll talk about it,' " she recounted. "He said, 'It's too late.' He said he'd left a note explaining everything."
Kramer told CNN she heard at least 25 shots. Watch witnesses describe the ordeal »
"I looked at my mom and said, 'We need to get out of here. Those are gunshots,' " Kramer said. "I just grabbed my mom and we ran to the back of the men's department and hid in some pants racks."
"He just kept firing," he said. She said she called 911 on her cell phone, whispering into it out of fear of being heard. A dispatcher told her other calls had been received and help was on the way, but she said it seemed to take "a long time" for them to arrive.
She said as she was being escorted out by police, she saw a man lying injured by the escalator where she had been previously.
Mall employee Charissa Tatoon said a man by an escalator near her was heard saying he was calling 911. See a map of where the shooting took place »
"Immediately after that, the shooter shot down from the third floor and shot him on the second floor," she said.
"All of us were slightly confused because we didn't know what it was," Tatoon said. "Immediately after that, there was a series of maybe 20 to 25 more shots up on the third floor."
Warren, the police chief, said the victims included five females and three males, not including Hawkins. The shooting appeared to be contained in the Von Maur store, he said.
"We believe there was one shooter, and one shooter only," he said. Watch police talk about the shooting »
Maruca Kovac said she was unaware Hawkins had any guns, although he knew a lot about them, as did his stepfather.
"When he first came to live with us, he was in the fetal position and chewed his fingernails all the time," she said. But she said she thought he was improving, as he had gotten a job, a haircut and a girlfriend.
However, she said Hawkins and his girlfriend had broken up in the last couple of weeks, and he had taken it hard.
She said late Wednesday that authorities were searching her house for evidence.
"My kids are devastated," she said. "We're all in shock."
Hawkins' former school district released a photo of a youth with glasses and long black hair. A spokeswoman said he attended Papillion-La Vista High School until he withdrew in March 2006.
President Bush had visited Omaha Wednesday before the shooting.
"The president is deeply saddened by the shootings in Omaha," White House press secretary Dana Perino said. "His thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families."
The shooting was at least the fourth at a mall or shopping center so far this year, following incidents in Salt Lake City, Utah; Kansas City, Missouri; and Douglasville, Georgia. E-mail to a friend
CNN's Kevin Bohn contributed to this report.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Push for faster net 'premature'

The push for next-generation broadband could be premature, according to some senior industry figures.
Both regulator Ofcom and BT have expressed doubts about whether the time is ripe for rolling out what would be expensive fibre optic networks.
"We need significant evidence that such a network is required and I don't think it exists yet," said Peter Philips, Ofcom's head of strategy.
Network firms have also questioned if a faster net would make economic sense.
"The question is how to make money and I'm not sure the answer is good," said Justin Paul, a development manager at telecoms equipment firm Alcatel-Lucent.

Broadband speeds around the world
There is also uncertainty over whether people would be willing to pay more for faster broadband.
Super-fast broadband capable of delivering speeds of up to 100Mbps (megabits per second) has worked their way up the political agenda in recent months.
Competitiveness minister Stephen Timms recently hosted a summit on the issue, while MPs recently held an eForum to debate the need for next-generation networks and regulator Ofcom has launched its own consultation.
Fibre networks capable of speeds of up to 100Mbps are already commonplace in Japan and South Korea and are starting to be rolled out in countries such as the US, France and Germany.
We are not facing large numbers of people today who are constrained by their bandwidth,
Peter McCarthy-Ward, BT
The Broadband Stakeholder Group (BSG) kick-started the debate in the spring of this year with a major report looking at how and why Britain would need next-generation broadband network.
BSG chief executive Antony Walker said it was not yet time to panic.
"There is lots of competition and innovation in the broadband market and [it is not clear that] current bandwidth is a problem. We don't need to make any rash moves but the time is ripe for some collective thinking," he said.
You can shoot someone so much quicker at 50 megabits
Howard Watson, Virgin
Regulator Ofcom is also heavily involved in the debate and is aware that for any company to commit to a multi-billion pound investment in a new network it would require some assurances from the government that it would be able to recoup its money.
While acknowledging that a fibre network "could be one of the most fundamental changes to our communications infrastructure in decades," Peter Philips, head of strategy and market development at Ofcom, is not entirely convinced that it is ready to come out of the starting blocks just yet.
"We need significant evidence that such a network is required and I don't think it exists yet," he said.
"We have to ask ourselves what would be the disadvantage if your investment comes later than others. We would be able to learn from the experiences in other countries," he added.
Commercial incentive
Most industry watchers are aware that the obvious candidate for any network upgrade is the custodian of the current ADSL broadband network, BT.

What will deliver next-generation broadband?
BT is planning to up the speeds of ADSL, with a new technology offering speeds of up to 24Mbps and The roll-out of so-called ADSL2+ will begin early next year and by 2011 all of BT telephone exchanges will have been upgraded.
It is also considering the business case of rolling out VDSL - a technology that offer fibre as far as the street cabinets. This would offer speeds of up to 50Mbps.
As far as fibre to the home goes - the real gold standard in the network world - BT has only committed to offering this technology (which offers speeds of up to 100Mbps) on new housing estates, such as Ebsfleet in Kent which will eventually serve thousands of homes.
"No-one would be more delighted if a commercial incentive emerged that enabled us to fibre the nation," said Peter McCarthy-Ward, BT's director of equivalence.
But he is not yet sure the demand is there.
"We are not facing large numbers of people today who are constrained by their bandwidth," he said.

Will gaming be one of key drivers for increased bandwidth?
Any commitment to a fibre network would need to be backed by reassurances from Ofcom that it would be able to recoup its investment, he said.
It may sometimes seem like Britain's best kept secret, but there is already a next-generation network serving just over half the population.
Virgin has pledged to upgrade its cable network - which reaches 52% of the population - to 50Mbps speeds by the end of 2008.
Speaking at a recent broadband conference, Virgin Media's chief technology officer Howard Watson admitted that an upgrade of cable would not "be on the same scale as what BT would have to do, but neither is it a trivial amount of money",
But, he said, the investment was crucial to Virgin's strategy going forward.
"We are shifting our position to one driven by broadband and increasing speed," he said.
Triallists at the pilot sites in Ashford, Dover and Folkestone are very happy with the service especially the ability it gives them to do fast downloads and access high-definition TV content, said Mr Watson.
"And gamers love it. You can shoot someone so much quicker at 50 megabits," he said.

Teddy row teacher to be released

Teacher Gillian Gibbons is to be released from prison in Sudan after she was jailed for allowing children in her class to name a teddy bear Muhammad.
Mrs Gibbons, 54, from Liverpool, was jailed for 15 days by a court in Sudan.
Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir pardoned her after a meeting with two British Muslim peers, Lord Ahmed and Baroness Warsi.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown said he was "delighted and relieved" at the news and that "common sense had prevailed".
The BBC's Adam Mynott said Mrs Gibbons is expected to be released later on Monday.
The jailing of Mrs Gibbons has led to an international outcry and has embarrassed the government.
"The president has told us he has already signed the papers for her pardon," Lord Ahmed told the AP news agency.
Efforts applauded
Mr Brown said Mrs Gibbons would be released into the care of the British embassy in Khartoum.
"Through the course of Ms Gibbons' detention I was glad to see Muslim groups across the UK express strong support for her case.

Baroness Warsi and Lord Ahmed both travelled to Sudan
"I applaud the particular efforts of Lord Ahmed and Baroness Warsi in securing her freedom. I am also grateful to our officials for all their work behind the scenes."
President Omar al-Bashir has been under pressure from Sudanese hardliners to ensure Mrs Gibbons served her full sentence.
There had even been calls for a retrial and for the sentence to be increased.
Mrs Gibbons had been held in a secret location due to fears for her safety.
She was arrested after a member of staff at Unity High School complained to the Ministry of Education.
Crowds of protesters had marched in the capital Khartoum demanding a tougher sentence for her alleged crime of blasphemy. Some called for her to be executed by firing squad.
The British politicians had meetings with Sudanese government officials, including the foreign minister, over the weekend.
They had been due to return home on Monday, but announced they would stay for a third day, after indications that the weekend's "difficult" meetings had led to progress in the case.