OMAHA, Neb. — The teen gunman who fatally shot eight people in a mall earlier this month tried to kill himself by swallowing about 30 pills nearly two years earlier, according to court records released Wednesday.
Months later, Robert Hawkins left state care, with his father saying the boy "will have to stand or fall on his own."
A judge on Wednesday released case worker reports, a psychological evaluation and a letter to the court from Hawkins' father, Ron Hawkins. The judge also released 11 transcripts of Hawkins' earlier court proceedings, adding detail to Hawkins' troubled teen years.
The judge ordered the information released after motions were filed by several news organizations, including The Associated Press.
In one report, Hawkins, who had been in and out of the juvenile justice system since he was 14, told a social worker that he was feeling overwhelmed by court hearings and school.
He told the social worker, Angela Pick, that he wanted to die when he swallowed about 30 Tylenol pills in January 2006, she wrote in a report to Sarpy County Juvenile Court.
Her report said Hawkins "ended up in the emergency room" after taking the pills, but did not say how he got there. He was released to his father six days later and his demeanor "appeared to improve. His father and this worker observed him to be more positive," Pick wrote.
"He said that he never wanted to go through that again," she wrote.
Nearly two years later, on Dec. 5, the 19-year-old Hawkins walked into a department store in Omaha's Westroads Mall and fatally shot eight people and himself with an AK-47 rifle.
Will have to ‘stand or fall on his own’
Hawkins walked away from state care after four years, not because he was prepared to face society on his own but because he was no longer cooperating, according to case workers.
"I think the only thing that will work is for him to learn it the hard way," Ron Hawkins wrote in an e-mail dated Aug. 18, 2006, three days before Hawkins left the system.
"He will have to stand or fall on his own to learn these lessons about life," Ron Hawkins wrote. "It is beyond my ability and I have to release him to God, praying that He will make sure that nothing happens to him that cannot be undone."
Robert Hawkins shrugged off criticism of his drug use, acknowledged dealing drugs to fund his marijuana habit and was up and down with school, the newly released information showed.
But a deep divide with his stepmother, Candace Hawkins, seems to have kept him from reconciling with a family that placed him in a Missouri treatment facility for threatening to kill her. Hawkins was transferred to Nebraska state custody in 2002 when his parents' insurance stopped paying for Hawkins to be at the facility.
Mother was afraid of son
Candace Hawkins said she would never feel comfortable around Hawkins again, and she said that if he did return it could lead to a divorce, the documents said. She gave up on therapy and separated from the gunman's father, the documents said.
Hawkins entered an outpatient drug program in May 2006, but was "unsuccessfully discharged" in July 2006 because of "negative behaviors and a failure to make a commitment to sobriety," according to a court report dated Aug. 17, 2006.
The report recommended that the court's jurisdiction be terminated, and Robert Hawkins' therapist and his father agreed.
"Robbie has been in the court system for many years and has reached maximum benefit from what the department can provide," Pick wrote. "... He has continued to make poor decisions but not any that are a safety concern at this time."
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