December 18, 2014

Colorado shooting sparks memories of Von Maur tragedy in Omaha

The entire country is thinking about the tragedy in Aurora, Colorado where a man walked into the midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises” and opened fire killing 12 people and injuring dozens more.

This is likely bringing back chilling memories for many Nebraskans of December 5, 2007 when 19 year old Robert Hawkins walked in to the Von Maur store at Westroads Mall in Omaha and opened fire killing eight people and then his own life.

Robin Zagurski is a disaster behavioral health expert at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha and has this advice not only for survivors of the Von Maur shooting but for their family, others who were in Westroads that day, emergency personnel and the community itself. Zagurski recommends reaching out to support groups and maintain a regular routine. She says try your best to not go home and isolate as that could bring on an even stronger reaction and take you in a negative direction.

Zagurski says in the days and weeks ahead residents of Aurora will experience the same emotions as were felt in Omaha back in 2007. She says for the next several days residents will likely experience a “heroic phase” where they will bond together. Next they will likely experience the “honeymoon phase” where they believe they can work on things and the situation will improve. Finally, Zagurski says there is the “disillusionment phase” where people feel alone and the situation will not get any better.

Zagurski says it is common for people to try to figure out what triggered the shooter to do such a horrible thing. She says many times that question is never answered but there does seem to be a pattern that terrorists follow. First there is a grievance stage followed by planning and preparation. It is that time where the person often times talks of their intent. Zagurski says those the potential terrorist confides in should not ignore those remarks and contact authorities of a potential situation.

Gov. Dave Heineman, in accordance with the proclamation from President Barack Obama, has ordered all flags at half-staff in respect for the victims of the tragedy in Aurora, Colorado. Flags will remain at half-staff until setset on the 25th.