There was a lot of excitement in Omaha on the morning of December 5, 2007. President George Bush was in the city and visited a health care center and attended a fundraiser for then U-S Senator Mike Johanns. Life was just getting back to normal when tragedy struck just after 1:30 p.m.
Fred Wilson was a customer service manager at the Von Maur store at Westroads Mall. He was on an upper level of the store when he heard shots ring out followed by screams from others inside. Wilson says he and others took cover behind a counter before the gunman reached that area and opened fire. Wilson was struck in the upper chest. By the time he arrived at a hospital he had no pulse but managed to recover. He was one of four injured that day. Eight others were not so lucky. Employees Beverly Flynn, Janet Jorgensen, Gary Joy, Angie Schuster, Dianne Trent and Maggie Webb along with customers John McDonald and Gary Scharf were killed. The gunman also took his own life.
Wilson says memories come flooding back when he hears of other shootings like what happened in San Bernardino this week. He says every time he hears of another mass shooting the news is chilling and saddening and his message today is all lives matter.
Wilson says, “I’m not mad but I am sad. Tears have been shed over the past few days. Anger is not a part of my being. I was blessed to have lived when others did not on December 5, 2007. I hope I deserved the life I’ve had the last eight years and have made a difference. I’ve said this over and over again, one must realize in adversity, whatever that is, there are blessings, whatever those blessings may be. One must keep one’s heart open to the blessings that accompany adversity.”
Wilson leaves everyone with this message. He says, “We just go about our lives assuming we have another day when in fact we only have this moment. In that sense we need to love the moment, love the moment and realize it may be our last.”