A look at the eight victims who died in Wednesday’s shooting at the Westroads Mall in Omaha, Neb.
Gary Scharf was on his way home to Lincoln after a business trip in Iowa when he stopped at the Von Maur store.
“I’m sure he got in front of other people” and took a bullet that might have hit someone else, said his ex-wife, Kim Scharf. “There’s no doubt in my mind, I promise you. That’s who he is, to a fault.”
Scharf, 48, sold agricultural products and was devoted to helping people, she said. Recently he helped a single mom get her car started, then got her address and delivered a package of groceries and blankets to her doorstep, she said.
“I called him my Dudley-do-right,” Kim Scharf said. “I’m not kidding. You’d never meet a more honorable and loyal man.”
Raised in a small Nebraska town, Gary Scharf graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Kim Scharf said the couple divorced about three years ago, but “he followed me out of divorce court and said we’d remarry in six months.” They saw each other every day and were planning to get married.
She planted a rose for each success
Beverly Flynn, a gift wrapper at the Von Maur, also had been a real estate agent for NP Dodge Co. since last year.
Whenever she closed a deal, the 47-year-old Omaha woman planted a rose bush in the yard of the new homeowners as a move-in gift, company spokeswoman Susan Young said.
“That was her way to put her style on the whole transaction,” Young said. “She was a very warm individual.”
Shot in the chest, Flynn was taken to Creighton University Medical Center, where attempts to resuscitate her failed.
“All we know is that a fine human being has been taken from us prematurely, and that she and the other victims will be greatly missed,” said Sandy Dodge, president of NP Dodge, in a letter to employees.
Two sisters torn apart
Angie Schuster had planned to teach elementary school after graduating from college, but when she couldn’t find a job in the field, she started working in retail, said her older sister, Donna Kenkel.
Schuster, 36, of Omaha, was a manager in the girls department at Von Maur, where she had worked for nearly 10 years, Kenkel said. The department is near the third-floor elevator, which Kenkel said meant “she probably didn’t have any chance, any warning” against the gunman.
“They said he got off the elevator, and she would have been right there in his way,” she said.
The sisters were born 11 months apart and lived about a mile from each other. They last saw each other Sunday, at a child’s birthday party at the Omaha zoo.
“She was in a very happy place in her life. She met a man,” Kenkel said. “They were so happy.”
'She was middle-of-the-road American'
Dianne Trent, a store employee, spent warm evenings tending to the flowers on her porch, drinking tea and chatting with her neighbor, Errol Schlenker.
“A very incredibly sweet person,” Schlenker said. “She was a middle-of-the-road American, a dedicated worker. She was just a decent person who lived a good life here.”
Divorced many years ago and with no children, Trent, 53, lived in a northwest Omaha town house with a small dog and two cats, Schlenker said.
“She called me a couple times when she was afraid of something, when she heard noises outside,” he said. “I know she was always concerned about her safety as far as the way things were going in society and being a single woman.”
Neighbor: Retired couple didn't deserve this
John McDonald and his wife of 40 years were getting Christmas gifts wrapped at the Von Maur when the shooting started. They tried to hide behind a chair, but he was shot and died before paramedics could reach him, said his wife, Kathy.
“He was one of the greatest people anyone could hope to meet,” Kathy McDonald said. “He had a fantastic sense of humor. He was so accepting of people.”
The retired couple lived across the Missouri River from Omaha in Council Bluffs, Iowa. John McDonald, 65, loved music, electronics and astronomy, and he played bridge and the guitar.
“They were just nice, ordinary people who didn’t deserve this,” neighbor Shirley Acebedo said. She said her husband and John McDonald would talk football out in the yard.
John McDonald is survived by his wife, two children and seven granddaughters.
The devoted son
Gary Joy loved writing stories and poems and was a devoted son, his 91-year-old mother said.
Inez Joy said her 56-year-old son often dined with her at her Omaha retirement community, most recently at Thanksgiving. “He always came when I needed help,” she said.
Gary Joy, a Von Maur employee from Omaha, died before he arrived at a hospital.
“I’ve been through tragedy before,” his mother said. “You hurt. There’s not a thing you can do about it.”
Joy, who had also lived in Denver, was divorced and had no children. He is survived by his mother and an older brother.
An outgoing personality
Janet Jorgensen, a longtime employee in Von Maur’s gift department, was popular with co-workers and customers alike, her daughter-in-law said.
Almost everyone who shopped there seemed to know the 66-year-old Omaha woman because of her friendly, outgoing personality, said the daughter-in-law, who didn’t want her name used.
Jorgensen, who worked at the store since it opened about a dozen years ago, is survived by a husband, three children and eight grandchildren.
'One of the good ones'
Maggie Webb was new to the Omaha Von Maur store. She transferred there from a Chicago location earlier this year, according to her alma mater, Illinois State University. She graduated in 2005 with a degree in business administration.
Webb, who was about two weeks shy of her 25th birthday, was the youngest victim of Wednesday’s shooting rampage.
The Quad-City Times reported that Webb grew up in Illinois and graduated from Moline High School in 2001. She was active in the school dance team and Spanish Club, among other activities.
“One of my staff commented to me about Maggie, saying, ‘She was one of the good ones.’ They paused, and said, ’No, one of the great ones,”’ Moline principal Bill Burrus said.
Associated Press calls to Webb’s parents and sister were not immediately returned.