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911 calls show fear, chaos during mall shooting

  • Story Highlights
  • "I'm hiding in a clothes rack," a caller says
  • A rapid burst of gunshots can be heard in another call before the line goes dead
  • Robert Hawkins killed six employees and two customers before taking his own life
  • "I see him laying by the gun," a woman tells the dispatcher
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OMAHA, Nebraska (CNN) -- Dozens of calls flooded the Omaha Police Department's 911 emergency line after a gunman opened fire inside the city's Westroads Mall, with witnesses calling in tones that ranged from almost matter-of-fact to near terror.

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Police make their presence known at the Westroads Mall in Omaha, Nebraska, Thursday.

"I haven't seen anything. I'm hiding in a clothes rack," a woman said after a dispatcher asked her for a description of the shooter. "I mean, there's been like 50 gunshots."

In one of the recordings, provided to CNN by the police department, a rapid burst of three gunshots can be heard, followed by two more a moment later before the line goes dead.

A dispatcher asked one caller to move away from a woman shouting in the background.

"Oh Lord God help us," the woman can be heard screaming. Video Hear some of the 911 calls »

"She said there is a bunch of people shot," the caller says.

Robert Hawkins, 19, killed six employees and two customers of Von Maur department store on Wednesday before turning his AK-47 rifle on himself.

Two employees remained hospitalized Thursday, one with critical injuries and one in serious condition.

A woman who called 911 before ducking into a security office in the store said she heard the gunman demand that a vault be opened near the store's customer service area.

Police have not described the shooting as a robbery attempt, saying Thursday they don't know why Hawkins chose the store as a target.

The caller described the shooter as having "a very large gun" and said he came out of an elevator on the store's third floor and began firing shots into the air.

"I heard the gunshots and I got down as soon as possible because I've got kids," she said.

Later, she told the dispatcher she'd moved into the security office -- where she appears to have seen Hawkins' dead body on a surveillance camera.

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"Oh my gosh! It looks like the gun is laying over by customer service -- it looks like he might have killed himself," she said, breaking into tears. "I see him laying by the gun!"

Police said Thursday that Hawkins had had "some mental health problems," including thoughts of suicide. He had lost his job and recently broken up with his girlfriend, according to a family friend. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

All About Robert Hawkins

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