Hundreds Mourn Omaha Mall Shooting Victims

Friends and family members mourned the loss of loved ones as funeral services and vigils began over the weekend for the victims of the Omaha, Neb., shooting.

Janet Jorgensen, 67, was planning the wedding for one of her granddaughters and had helped her husband of 50 years fight cancer before she was fatally shot on Wednesday by a teenage gunman at Westroads Mall. Her funeral was held Sunday.

Jorgensen was an employee at Von Maur department store where 19-year-old Robert A. Hawkins of Bellvue, Neb., opened fire, killing eight people before taking his own life. It was the second mall shooting this year in the United States.

Separate visitations were held Sunday for store employees Gary Joy, 56, and Dianne Trent, 53.

"What happened at the Westroads Mall last Wednesday happened to each and every one of us," the Rev. Bert Thelen of St. John's Parish at Creighton University said in his sermon on Sunday, according to The Associated Press.

Hundreds of parishioners remembered the victims with candles labeled with the victims' names lit at the front of the sanctuary. A funeral service for John McDonald, who was shopping at the department store, was to be held at St. John's on Monday.

The popular Omaha mall reopened Saturday while the Von Maur store itself remained closed. Its reopening day is undetermined. Shoppers, however, didn't have the same holiday cheer as they walked through the mall.

"It doesn't feel like a Christmas feeling," said John Andrews who went to the mall to buy Christmas presents, according to AP.

A makeshift memorial was placed at the entrance of the mall where some grieved what is reported to be the worst shooting in Nebraska's history.

"I think it's important that we show the solidarity that we're all here for both the employees and the customers," Mayor Mike Fahey told CNN.

Surveillance footage released by the Omaha Police Department on Friday showed Hawkins entering the Von Maur store and then leaving on the day of the shooting. He was captured again by a surveillance camera about six minutes later re-entering, clutching his midsection as if hiding something, and then stalking toward elevators.

Neighbors described Hawkins as a quiet teen who didn't cause trouble. But recent reports have indicated the shooting did not come without warning signs.

Hawkins had gone through five years of juvenile-services programs since he was 13 and was charged with making homicidal threats toward his stepmother.

As a ward of the State of Nebraska, he received extensive care at Cooper Village, a residential treatment facility for teenagers, from 2003 to 2005. He was diagnosed with depression, attention deficit disorder, impulsiveness, hyperactivity, and a disorder characterized by negativity and hostility toward authority figures.

"He was in good facilities," said Sandra K. Markley, Sarpy County's lead juvenile prosecutor, according to The New York Times. "He had good supervision. It didn't all go perfectly, of course. But we deal with a lot of troubled children, and, as far as we could tell, he was no more troubled than many of them."

Todd Landry, director of children and family programs for the Department of Health and Human Services, said Thursday that "all appropriate services were provided when needed and as long as needed."

Hawkins had been removed from his home for the sake of his stepmother's safety. His father "tried hard" and participated in family therapy sessions, Markley said.

Hawkins also had an alcohol and marijuana problem.

By August 2006, the state terminated its custody of Hawkins, saying "the child is nonamenable to further services," according to The New York Times. Officials said he had refused to participate in drug treatment.

"There was really nothing more that we could offer him that he was willing to participate in," said Markley.

Hawkins' family released a statement to AP through the Rev. Mark Miller of Faith Presbyterian Church in La Vista in which they said they hope the community can heal. Services had not yet been arranged for Hawkins.

"Our community of Nebraska has been confronted with an unspeakable terror," said the Rev. David L. deFreese, bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Nebraska Synod, Omaha, in a statement. "One of our children, so desperate and despondent, chose death as his response to the pain of living, and (he) also chose to afflict so many others with murderous agony. The horrific events overwhelm us with their senselessness and frightfulness."

Offering words of hope, the Lutheran bishop said, "We move forward with purpose. Death and evil do not have the final word. God does."

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