12/06/07 — Warning signs: Mall shooter left clues that could have saved lives

View Archive

Warning signs: Mall shooter left clues that could have saved lives

No one can really predict when another human being is going to decide to take a gun and head into a mall to shoot innocent bystanders.

And even though the family with whom Robert Hawkins was living saw that he had an assault rifle and heard his statements about how his life was going nowhere, they might not have thought that an otherwise meek young man would have decided to do something so horrific.

And because they did not think to call the police, eight people are dead in Omaha, Neb. — and 19-year-old Robert Hawkins has committed suicide.

He said something about going out in a blaze of glory. That statement is a discussion for another day. Still think the desensitization against violence is not having an effect on some American youths?

But the lesson to be learned today is that better safe than sorry could make an enormous difference.

A call to the police might have gotten this young man the help he needed — and saved eight innocent lives.

And, if you will remember, there were warning signs in the Virginia Tech shooting, too — a chance to have warned someone that a troubled young man might have sinister plans.

Hindsight is and will forever be 20/20.

It is very easy to say what would have happened had someone made another choice and picked up a telephone and mentioned the strange actions to police.

But in the end, the fact that there was no warning, and no intervention, could very well have cost eight people their lives.

It is better to share suspicions and to have the allegations be untrue than to risk innocent lives.

That is the lesson from Omaha.

Published in Editorials on December 6, 2007 11:21 AM