Shock And Disbelief In Omaha

Police vehicles block the entrance to the Westroads Mall, site of Wednesday's deadly shooting, in Omaha, Neb., Thursday, Dec. 6, 2007. Eight people were killed and five wounded before the shooter, Robert A. Hawkins, ended the horror by taking his own life. He left behind a note that read, in part, "Now I'll be famous."(AP Photo/Nati Harnik) AP Photo/Nati Harnik

This column was written by CBS News Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith.


In a house on a cul-de-sac in suburban Omaha today a family is hurriedly trying to arrange a funeral.

The phone doesn't stop ringing. Someone from church is at the door with food. A reporter or two is parked outside in the cold and snow even though they've been told no one inside wants to talk.

Nerves are shot. Everyone is exhausted. There is the occasional blank stare. But mostly, it's chaos. Emotional, physical, spiritual confusion. The person who was here yesterday will never come home again. The reality of that is truly beyond today's grasp.

So preparations are made. It's agreed who will go to the funeral home; a casket must be chosen. Visitation hours agreed upon. And there are the relatives from Iowa, from California. They must have time to get here.

There really hasn't been enough time to be sad. It's too soon for that. It's all still a shock. There are cries of pain and tears that won't stop and a question they'll ask for the rest of their live: Why did this happen?

Harry's daily commentary can be heard on many CBS Radio News affiliates across the country.
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