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Topic : 01/07 Omaha Mall Shooting: A Mother’s Guilt

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Created on : Tuesday, December 30, 2008, 05:12:36 pm
Author : DrPhilBoard1
On December 5, 2007, Robert Hawkins walked into the Von Maur Mall in Omaha, Nebraska carrying an AK-47 rifle and 30 rounds of ammunition. The troubled 19-year-old gunned down eight people and wounded two others before taking his own life in what's been called the deadliest mall shooting in U.S. history. Robert’s mother, Molly, says she can't get over the guilt. Could this massacre have been averted? Did the grieving mom miss warning signs that would have foretold her son’s shooting spree? Dr. Phil asks the tough questions and takes a brutally candid look into this tragedy. Then, he speaks with Debora, a woman who says she took Robert in after he fell out with his parents. Find out what Debora says she witnessed just days before the teen’s murderous rampage. And, Jeff, a survivor of the Omaha mall shooting, faces off with Molly for the first time on Dr. Phil's stage. Plus, don’t miss the warning signs that your child is headed down a dangerous path. Talk about the show here.

Find out what happened on the show.

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January 7, 2009, 5:24 pm CST

01/07 Omaha Mall Shooting: A Mother’s Guilt

After watching the show today, I was wandering why is it only the mother that apoligize for her son's actions, what about the ex husband that the guns belonged to? And what about the lady the nurse where he lived, why did those 2 women ignored all the signs, they chose to bury their head in the sand. I feel for all the families that lost loved ones, we had similar incidents in Montreal a few years back, those mothers should have recognized the signs and help the boy, not smoke pot with him, what kind of a mother does that with her child. I thank god every day for my 2 daughters, when they were teenagers we lived outside of the city in a small town,  so they did not have a choice they had to take the school bus to get there, there was no other means of transportation, they were warned that they had to be on that bus at night because we would not start driving to pick them at friends house, only on special occasions. At that time I was a stay at home mom, I was fortunate enough that my husband could provide for us without me going to work. and I do not regret the time that I spent with them, they had their friends over and I was there to supervise their activities. Today in this society every one is busy with their own lives and the children have a key around their neck because parents are too busy working to make ends meet. I just hope that they will pass a legislation to ban those type of weapons and people who have firearms should all have them under lock and key.
January 7, 2009, 5:48 pm CST


The warning signs are very stupid except the ones about a person saying he is going to harm someone else or him self. note (harming yourself is only illegal because if you might harm your self youwill probably harm others)  Just because this shooter was Mentally ill doesnt mean that it has anything to do with the incident. Today Mentally ill people are mistreated and looked down on as Blacks Hispanics Gays etc. were looked down on before in the United States. In the USA it is our right to be as insane as we like, just as long as we dont hurt ourselves and others. It is our right to bear arms as well. All we can say about this shooter is that he was a bad person. Alot of people have nearly all of these symptoms and are loving, hard working, and productive individuals that SHOULD be trusted. Do not forget many great people have had diseases of the mind such as Howard Hughes( US Airforce Engineer), Salvadore Dali(World Famous Surrelist painter)  We must not repeat history and become like Nazi Germany, or the Soviet Union.

Also most psychiatric Drugs are Dangerious to the brain. Many people remember in the 60's a drug called Clunipin. This Drug was the same thing as a  lobotomy but a Chemecle way of doing it. Anti- Psychotics have not came very far since them and still almost cause retardation.


So you may as what do we do? The answer is to raise awarnes on people with these disabilities and make sure they are accepted in society how they are.

January 7, 2009, 5:52 pm CST


I am by no means saying that it is ok to shoot someone else and I do feel that people are responsible for their own action, however, I am afraid that all this talk about noticing signs and should have done something before, will lead to people getting put away before they have even committed a crime. Lets not forget that we live in a free country and that people are angry everyday and speak things that they shouldn't but 95% of the time they never act on it.  I feel that we start saying that we should have done what? Lock him away?  He hadn't committed a crime yet.  We need to think of something else!
January 7, 2009, 5:58 pm CST

Off base

 I watched this show and was once again a unhappy with some of the things was said. And some of the things not said. For one, the biggest part of the blame should be on the father. I am a father of three and a gun advocate. The father had a duty as a parent and a gun owner to lock his weapons up! Even if he did'nt have kids he should of locked his weapons up. This could of been prevented just by doing this one simple thing. Or at lest made it harder for the young man to have access to a weapon.

 And i just wanted to voice my opinion on ak 47's. The ak 47 that the young man used was a semi-auto rifle that uses a 762x39 bullet. There are dozens of rifles that use this cal. round. The ak 47 looks like a military weapon but thats it. It's just cosmetics to appeal to the consumers. The sks is almost the same rifle and unless you convert it, you have to use a clip ( not a magazine) and load 10 rounds from the top.  It all boils down to being a responsible gun owner and a responsible parent. I feel that the father should be the one in being prosecuted and in jail. Blame the one who could have stopped it.


January 7, 2009, 6:20 pm CST

it's not the guns

Too many people blame the world's problems on guns.  It isn't the guns that are killing people, it's people killing people.  If you ban guns, people will find another way to hurt people.  What would be next, banning knives? Baseball bats? Ropes? Don't get me wrong, my heart goes out to the families of the people that were killed and injured but I do not think that by taking guns away from those of us that are responsible with them will be the answer.
January 7, 2009, 6:21 pm CST

Schools can catch kids who fall between the cracks

As a former hig school educator, I have dedicated my life to helping educators meet students' needs. The challenge is that we'll never know students' needs until we get them writing. If someone had asked Robert Hawkins how his day or his life was going when he was a freshman here in the Omaha schools, he would have shrugged his shoulders and said "fine." However, if they had put a blank sheet of paper in front of him and given him five minutes of quiet time to write, he, like the students in "Freedom Writers" would have poured out his heart.  How do I know? I've asked thousands and never had one that didn't write. Now we have hundreds of teachers around the country doing the same. I am very grateful to Dr. Phil's team for using my song at the end of the show today and telling the world about our program. Together we can catch the kids falling between the cracks. 
January 7, 2009, 7:17 pm CST

Troubled Teens

After watching Dr. Phil today I needed to leave a message because it seems no one else will listen.  Dr. Phil talked about all the "signs" leading up to this horrific tragedy.  My husband has 2 daughters (1 biological and 1 he took responsibility for-biological father unknown) with his ex-wife.  She also has 2 sons (each by different fathers).  When they were divorcing, he was accused of molesting the younger daughter (not biological).  There was never any evidence, no charges were filed but once it got into the hands of Social Services, they managed to keep him from seeing his daughters.  He was given supervised visitation but once they had no one to supervise, visitation stopped (long story but very relevant since these girls were raised without a father),  The younger daughter has threatened suicide and has many problems living in the home.  Mom "home schools" the daughters so they can run the home daycare.  We have contacted the school and talked to teachers, resource officers and the superintendent about the home situation.  We have been told, why are you trying to create problems for this mom?  The school which the younger daughter has started to attend has had 4 students commit suicide since mid October 2008.  We are very concerned for her but have no contact with her and she "hates" her father.  The younger brother 13, is the one I am very concerned about.  He also does not have a father in his life.  He is extremely intelligent and even skipped 5th grade so he is a freshman in High School at 13.  Since he is not my husband's child, we have no legal right to any information about him but from different things we have heard about him I worry that he is one of these kids slipping through the cracks and we will hear about him when there is another Columbine or VT.  The youngest child, 7, llives with his Dad but still has  visitation with Mom.  Dad won custody about 1 year ago.  He tells his Dad that he bathes with Mom.  His Mom goes to his school 1-3 times a week to have lunch or help out.  She says that she doesn't get enough visitation and so she sees him during the school day.  This is a very complicated situation and I have been living with it for 10 years.  The bottom line is, the children are suffering mental and emotional abuse and no one seems to care.  The 16 year old is suicidal, the 13 year old is angry and aggressive.  I am not a doctor, but this mom needs help.  Her upbringing was very troubled and she never had a father and that is what is normal to her.  In fact, there are very few dad or husbands in her family.  The 13 year old boy has no male role model and his mom dislikes men very much.  I have very bad feelings about this situation and have talked to the school superintendent and even the director of social services and am told they can't do anything unless something happens.  Do we need to have another suicide or another troubled kid bring a gun to school or kill a parent at home?  Any suggestions?????  Help! 
January 7, 2009, 7:36 pm CST

Hats off to you Mom!!!

Quote From: cndrlla

I was also a single mother of three: a boy and two girls. No one said it was "easy".  Being a GOOD parent is the toughest job anyone can EVER do!  Being a lousy parent is "easy".


Please do not take what I'm going to say as a personal attack; it's not meant that way. I have no way of knowing what kind of parent you personally are. I'm just going to give an example of what I did when faced with a similar situation, and when I use the word "you", I am using it in a general sense.


When my son was twelve he took something that didn't belong to him. It wasn't a big thing, but it didn't matter.  My reaction was immediate and tough; I made sure that kid's whole world came crashing down. I completely stripped his room of EVERYTHING except a mattress on the floor, a pillow and blanket.  He was not allowed to watch TV, nor could he use the phone. He was restricted to the house and no friends were allowed to come over.  He could go to school..period....and I took him there and picked him up....and I notified the teachers and the principal as to what was going on and told them if he tried to leave his classes or school they were to notify me immediately.


I told my son that he had to earn every single thing in his room back, and he had to earn all privileges back as well. There was no sass allowed; I put him to work in the yard pulling weeds, mowing the lawn, washing dishes, vacuuming, etc., everything I could think of.  His homework had to be done, and be done right. I kept him pretty busy...and when he wasn't busy, he had to sit quietly and think about his crime. I also made him write an essay as to why stealing was wrong.


In other words, I made life miserable for him. (And, by the way, I never laid a hand on him; I don't believe in smacking your kids around...nor did I yell at him.)  I told him that his punishment was a small taste of what he would experience if he stole something and went to jail. I also told him that the way he felt losing things that meant something to him (remember, I stripped his room and took away all his things) was how the person felt when he took their possession. 


He got it. It took him about a month to earn back everything and he never did it again.


The point being that I came down hard on him the FIRST time. There was no second chance, no feeling sorry for him, no letting it slide, no excuses accepted. All three of my kids knew the rules, knew what the consequences would be for breaking those rules, and knew I wouldn't let them get away with anything.  When you have a two parent household it's tough enough, but when you are in it alone you have to be twice as tough! There are some battles you simply can not lose. EVERY kid has their currency and it's up to you to figure out what it is and use it.


If you love your children, you take the time and trouble to discipline them from the time they are little...consistently, creatively, intelligently, and you set a good example for them so that they can respect you...because THAT'S real love!


And that is what being a parent is about!  Good for you, Mom, to show your son and daughters that you loved him so much you were willing to be "the bad guy" and teach him right from wrong.  Parents are so worried that their children will not like them if they take things away or make them do chores.  Children need to be taught all these skills while they are growing up.  They don't turn 18 and all of a sudden know how to live a good, productive life.  Children learn what they live!  Again, congratulations for taking the hardest job anyone will ever have and carrying through with the tough times.  I am sure you are reaping the rewards.
January 7, 2009, 8:38 pm CST

Stop blaming this mother!

I love to watch the Dr. Phil show. And most of the time I totally agree with what he has to say. But today after watching this show about the Omaha shooter I felt I had to write. I think that everyone needs to back off and leave this  boy's mother alone. How was she to know her son was going to do what he did? Many parents smoke pot with their kids. That doesn't mean the kid goes out and kills people. And a lot of people who do harder drugs than that don't either.  Many kids and people have mental problems. That doesn't mean they will shoot up a mall or a school. So many signs can describe a whole lot of teens today. The simple fact is we do not know they will do this type of thing unless they tell us they will. I could have been described by some as a quiet, troubled teen. In reality I was just very shy and had a very low self esteem. I started smoking pot when I was 15 and continued to do so for about 10 years. I have suffered from depression and have successully overcome it. All of these are signs and if taken the wrong way could label me as a possible mall shooter, something I am very far from ever being. I also have guns in my house now. They are shot guns used for hunting and are kept away from my children. I have also taught my sons not to touch any gun without  adult supervision. But, as with all things, WE CAN ONLY TEACH OUR CHILDREN. WE CANNOT ACT FOR THEM! We, as a society, seem to have forgotten that kids, no matter what their age, will do as they please if they choose to. We are just blessed if they respect us and listen. Bad kids can come from every level of society and the same for good kids. A child whose parents are drunks or druggies could very likely turn out to be a Harvard graduate. And a child whose parents have given him every opportunity in life could choose to be a serial rapist or murderer. NO ONE CAN KNOW WHAT OR WHERE THEIR CHILD WILL END UP AS THEY GET OLDER. WE CAN ONLY HOPE THAT WHAT WE HAVE TAUGHT THEM WILL STAY WITH THEM. And if a child is abused or neglected, that does not mean they will end up an abuser or a murderer. Statistics may say they are usually the ones who do. But those are just statistics not the rule. I was abused as a child. Not as bad as some, but definately abused physically and emotionally by my step mother. And my father just ignored it hoping it would just go away. Guess what. I am not a crazy person now. I chose not to be like my step mother. I am just an average housewife with 2 children. We have a great family and even though we live paycheck to paycheck, we are all happy with the little that we do have. Yes even my 2 boys are happy and they do not have all of the expensive toys like a PS3 or a big pool in the back yard next to the hot tub. They have learned to appreciate what they have and what they get. Even if we were filthy rich, they would not be spoiled rotten.  That is not how my husand and I want our child to be.


My point is this. Even though this boy had so many signs to indicate he would do what he did, how could his mother, or anyone else for that matter, possibly know what he was planning? Maybe if someone had found plans written on paper, or if he had actually come out and said "I am going to the mall to kill people" OK then we can start blaming people. But NO ONE IS TO BLAME EXCEPT THIS BOY. He made his choice. I think everyone just needs to blame someone and the parents are always the easiest targets. I am not trying to say that I think this mother is perfect. I do not know one mother who is perfect. She has made her mistakes. And I am sure that she has been punishing herself for the last year over this. She does not need any more from anyone else. I wonder if each of us was put in her position, would we see all of these warning signs? And even if we did, what could we do about it? Counseling is about all that could be done for this boy. Even that is not a solution. And we cannot arrest him for wanting to kill people. So he would still be walking free to do as he pleased even if all the warning signs were recognized and he was treated for mental illness.  This boy did what he did because he chose to. Not because his mother was not in his life. Not because she smoked pot with him. (As an ex pot smoker, that drug does not make a person want to kill someone, try to fly off of the Empire State Building, or anything else crazy and insane. It makes you want to laugh, sleep, and eat. That's it. ) Not because of anything she did or didn't do. Unless she forced the gun into this boy's hand and made him shoot up this mall, she should not be blamed. Hindsight is 20/20. We all have things we would change about our past  if only we had known then what we know now. Before you judge this woman, take a good look at yourself. I can guarantee we have all done things we regret and wish we could change. Unfortunately, if it wasn't for cases like this, we would not know any warning signs to look for. And now that we do know, it will be very hard for anyone not to overreact or underreact. Because just because a child has some, or even all of these warning signs does not mean he/she will do what this boy did. I hope you will all stop blaming this mother, and start putting the blame where it should be. On this boy!

January 8, 2009, 12:51 am CST


Quote From: cndrlla

You know, you have some valid points, but I have to disagree with you when you say that those two women were not to blame.  Yes, they were! They had a huge role in this whole problem. Did you listen closely when the mother said she wasn't in this boy's life for 10 years from the ages of 7 to 17? Did you hear her say she smoked pot with her son? Did you hear when she alluded to the fact that she was a drug addict and that that's why she wasn't able to have custody of her son? Were you listening when she said she knew the gun was there,  that she knew the night before that the gun was missing and "had a feeling" she'd better check out the Jeep...but ignored that feeling? Did you miss it when she said he'd told many people, including her, that he was going to commit suicide? 


What kind of mother decides to just ignore all the signs, the direct statement that her child is going to commit suicide; and all the other blatantly screaming signs that this kid was headed for major trouble? AND decides to do drugs with this messed up kid, on top of all the rest of her (and the father's) bad parenting decisions?


And the stepmother wasn't much better.


You cannot be your child's friend when they are growing up!! You HAVE to be a parent....strong, consistent, and sober!!  You, as a parent, are all that stands between your children and disaster until their brain grows enough to make good decisions on their own.


On that stage this morning, I saw a whole lot of crooked-little-finger-pointing at others, but not a whole lot of genuine honesty when the hard questions were asked.


It always amazes me how when something like this tragedy happens, and kids go totally out of control, the parents seem to say, "Oh I just don't understand how and why this could have happened"...and then you look at the ridiculous parenting methods and you will see why and how!


It's time to pay attention to your children and stop being so self-involved and immature yourself!

I agree with everything you said 1,000,000,000,000 %! I'm watching the show right now and can't believe what i'm hearing! I'd really like to know who this disgusting mother is trying to impress? Did she get paid for appearing on the show? It surely wasn't common sense that brought her there! Lazy parenting had EVERY BIT as much to do with what happened that tragic day as the kid who pulled the trigger himself! There should be laws aqainst parents who refuse to raise their children right, just as their should be laws against those morons whose cars are stolen with their child inside because they were too lazy to take the kid in with them! But we are afterall in the 'blame game' society in which it's everybody else's fault but mine! And that terrible mother was certainly good at that!
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