Gunman kills 8 at US shopping mall

OMAHA, Nebraska - A 19-year-old man killed eight people and then himself with an assault rifle at a busy shopping mall in Omaha on Wednesday, sending terrified workers and Christmas shoppers scrambling for cover.

OMAHA, Nebraska - A 19-year-old man killed eight people and then himself with an assault rifle at a busy shopping mall in Omaha on Wednesday, sending terrified workers and Christmas shoppers scrambling for cover.

"Now I will be famous," the gunman wrote in a suicide note, his landlady told CNN after finding a three-part document that she said included his will. Police declined to discuss the contents of the note.

Five people were wounded, two of them critically, in the early afternoon rampage in the Midwestern US city. Most of the victims at the upmarket Westroads Mall were shot inside the Von Maur department store children's clothing area.

"It was horrible, just horrible," one woman told local television station KETV, saying she hid under a rack of clothes when the gunfire started.

The Nebraska shooting was the latest in a series of mass killings that have shocked the US, where gun ownership is widespread and the right to bear arms is a fiercely contested cons- titutional issue.

The White House said it was a "terrible tragedy".

"It's hard to believe it would happen here," said Jennifer Bettger, who left the mall just before the gunman opened fire.

"It stops you in your tracks. We're all asking why. Why here?"

Omaha police chief Thomas Warren identified the gunman as Robert Hawkins, 19, from Bellevue, Nebraska, near Omaha. He was living with friends after going through a series of hard times, according to his friends.

Warren said the dead were five females and three males.

"It would be speculation to try to figure out what the motive may have been. It may be impossible to come up with an explanation," said Warren.

Hawkins struggled with depression and had been in trouble at school and with the law, KETV reported. He also recently lost a job at a McDonald's fast-food restaurant, it said. - Reuters

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