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Service to remember Von Maur victims


The one-year anniversary of the shootings at Westroads Mall is here and the people of Omaha are invited to attend a prayer service Dec. 5 to remember the victims and their families.

Eight people were fatally shot by 19-year-old Robert Hawkins inside the Von Maur store at Westroads Mall on Dec. 5, 2007. Hawkins also killed himself.

The prayer service will take place at 7:30 p.m. at St. Leo the Great Church, located at 102nd and Blondo streets in Omaha. Father Harry Buse, pastor, will preside at the prayer service, which will include Scripture readings, a homily and reflection time.

"Last year when it happened, we had a prayer service the day after and we just wanted to do something to continue to remember to pray for those people and pray for healing in the city," said Sister Ann Marie Petrylka, OSM, coordinator of the prayer service and pastoral minister at the parish.

Westroads Mall is located just blocks away from the church, so it is considered to be within the parish boundaries, she said.

The families of the victims are invited to attend, Sister Petrylka said.

Kellie Schlecht, sister of victim Dianne Trent, said she and several members of her family plan to attend the prayer service. They also will attend a Von Maur-sponsored breakfast and a 1 p.m. memorial service on the south steps of the store that same day.

"People have been wonderful. Omaha is a very small world," she said, noting she continues to receive sympathy cards. "It was such a big deal, such a horrible incident that happened last year that everybody was impacted. Everybody feels our pain."


Von Maur is selling special lapel pins in memory of those who died in the shooting. The pins, which read "We Remember," cost $10 and all the proceeds will be donated to the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army and the United Way. They will be available through the holiday season at all 22 Von Maur stores in Iowa, Nebraska and seven other states.

Fred Wilson, who survived being shot at Von Maur, will speak to young people on Dec. 7 at 7 p.m. at St. Leo the Great Church. He will be talking about forgiveness. All Omaha youths are invited to attend.

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