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Archive for August, 2008

My New Streetlight…for my balcony

08/29/2008 3 comments
Street Lamp

Street Lamp

 So I’m walking around Target this morning with my kids…just to buy milk. I ended up finding more than milk. I love shopping Target Clearance Events. These people know how to clear product lines out. While wandering around back in the Outdoor Patio section, I stumble upon these outdoor patio lamps that are designed to resemble the older street lamps of the earlier 1900’s. These lights are normally onwards of $80 and up. I glanced down at the clearance sticker….$34.17…yes, for the one I am holding. The single lamp version didn’t have a sticker on it, but guessing by other similar models, it was probably around $20-$22. I want you to realize the value on this…I am 6’3. I am only holding the lamp off the ground by an inch or so. Now, this pciture was taken when I came back to the store 10 hours later, hoping it would still be there. As soon as I saw it, I picked it up and didn’t put it down. Even when my friend Kim was wanting to look at hairsprays, health beauty items, Husker shirts….still carried it. I felt somewhat like a cross between Paul Revere and the Statue of Liberty. Other shoppers around the store were watching me as I would pick up the lamp, walk ten feet down the aisle, set it down to look at something, then pick it back up and walk a few feet more and repeat. One of the guys that works there walked up to me and commented on how the lamp near the toiletries area (Kim was looking at travel size products) added a nice outdoorsy look to the pharmacy area. He then talked to me for a few minutes. I don’t know if he was trying to pick me up or what the deal was, but the chat seemed completely out of place. People at check outs were equally entertaining with their comments about me lighting up their life, illuminating personality, shedding some light on the subject….wow. Seemed like it would never end.

So now the lamp is sitting on my balcony, adding an elegant touch to an otherwise incomplete outdoor patio atmosphere that happens to be on a third floor balcony. Once I can figure out how to get a fountain out there, I can have a bistro…

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Possible Theory Regarding Molly Rodriguez

08/28/2008 5 comments

Recalling that Molly invited Robbie over for dinner December 4th, stated that they had steak and shrimp that night. Molly claims it was for a celebration of finishing her autobiography. I have strong gut feeling that the autobiography wasn’t finished until long after December 5th.

She told one reporter that she noticed the gun missing from the closet after he left from dinner and drugs on Dec 4th. She then later told another reporter that it was the next morning. Molly is cited as saying that she did not tust Robbie, and even feared her own safety at times when he was around. Yet, Molly takes her daughters shopping for a bit, leaving Robbie at the house by himself. When she returns, he is gone…and so is the gun.

Molly comes across as someone that has always needed an easy way to have a lifestyle that is always one notch above her financial reality. I believe she may have been running out of options for her sugar daddies.

My theory is this:

Molly realized that Robbie was beyond help and control in his life. He was using drugs, drinking, selling drugs and who knows what else. Molly was never really part of his life until recently, and I believe that when she realized just how far out of reach Robbie was, she began to have some doubts as to re-establishing a relationship with him. Given his unpredictable nature and history of drug usage, she needed to find a way out.

Knowing the last few months, Robbie was suicidal, I think she may have opened up some doors to allow him to go through with it. Molly was around the military for several years, and those that are in the military or are married into military at some point find out about the routine of deployment and war. It is customary the night before going into a war zone or battle to serve troops steak and sometimes shrimp as a last meal, in the event that the soldier does not return from battle.

I believe Molly invited Robbie over for dinner that night, feeding him steak and shrimp. After dinner, she offers to get high with him, and in some course of the evening, starts a conversation about her ex being in Thailand and not returning for awhile. Maybe a mention of how the guns were left in the closet with ammo making her uncomfortable. She does this to start planting the ideas into Robbie’s head as to a method to end his problems. She doesn’t clearly come right out and say it to him. Robbie is intelligent enough as a survivor of the streets and system, to recognize opportunity. Molly knew he would do this on his own.

She then takes her daughters shopping for a couple hours, knowing that Robbie is at her house, fed, stoned, suicidal, and able to get to an assault rifle with ammo. I believe she came home expecting to find Robbie had killed himself while she was shopping. This would put her fears and guilt to rest, as well as solve Robbie’s problems of having such a rough life already at such a young age, and society wouldn’t have to keep paying to become the repeat victim to his antics. (I write this solely as a possible point of view of molly, not my own personal views).

I also think that there may have been an exchange of words between Robbie and Molly just before she left for shopping. Something said that made Robbie realize that he was homeless and destitute. Yet, she was going shopping, he was not going to be going. I don’t know if he was invited, or not, but i don’t see that it was an option for him. I think this slap in the face of his situation in life, followed by Molly taking her daughter shopping for new things, leaving Robbie behind stoned and with nothing, could have been the trigger behind changing his mind of killing himself, to killing holiday shoppers in an upscale shopping environment. I also believe this is why she made a point to check for the gun after she returned home from her shopping trip. She was checking to see if the seed planted around dinner was going to start to grow.

Clearly Molly wasn’t expecting this change of events. I think she was hoping he would only  be taking his own life. When she realized that she had not received any news of his suicide, she decided to go to the sherriffs office the next morning to cover her ass and seperate herself as an accessory to the crime. Now she appears as the concerned mom to law enforcement. She also had placed calls to Robbie’s friends, telling them to tackle him if they saw him. My question is, how and why did she have their phone numbers? Was she dealing drugs to them?

Now with Robbie’s death and taking the lives of so many others that next day, this put the family into the public eye. Molly has been willing to sacrifice any sense of pride and deceny of herself by writing an auto biography. If she could stay in the lime light long enough until she finished it, she could land a deal and make more money then she ever imagined. I believe this, because there is no mention about the book until Rolling Stone’s interview in August 2008. I didn’t find any reference to a celebration writing a book the night before the murders in any other journalist account.

Again, these are all my own speculations and analysis. As a venue to deliver opinions, this blog is solely my own opinion and is unfounded as fact at this time.

Officer Paul Latschar

08/21/2008 2 comments
OPD Officer Paul Latschar

OPD Officer Paul Latschar

Officer Paul Latschar of Omaha Police Departments Gang Unit was shot on a routine traffic stop last night.  Last report was he was in critical condition, but improving. Ironically he was shot on the anniversary date of the death of Jimmy Wilson Jr, an officer shot and killed just two miles away 13 years ago.

Having been married to a police officer for 5 years I can only imagine what his family is going through.

My thoughts and prayers go out to him and his family, as well as all of the other officers on the department. The fellowship of the law enforcement field has never ceased to amaze me. This extends to the families of those that wear uniforms as well. If anyone would like to leave thoughts, comments, prayers, wishes here with my post, feel free to submit them. I will approve all of them as long as they are not done in poor taste.

Godspeed Paul.

For the rest of you wearing the badge out there, Be Safe.

F-R-A-U-D…what one person called me…lol

08/19/2008 3 comments

I received a comment from someone last night that for some reason posted it in my About Me section instead of the front pages here. I wanted to take a chance to respond to this person’s comments, so I am doing so in a post.

“Regarding your post on the RS article on the Westroads mall massacre I have one question: Did you train at Fox News?

The reason I ask is that, like Fox, you “question” a lot with nothing more than speculation and assmption as a basis. Since your forum here allow you, more or less, unlimited space to fill in the details and facts behind your “questions”, the lack thereof spells f-r-a-u-d.

Also, you seem to take personal offense that the author is critical of the Omaha area and its people. Well, don’t sweat it too terribly much. Really bad things happen pretty much everywhere. Your community shares no more guilt regarding this incident than any other community shares for the scads of bad things that happen all the time elsewhere. Regardless, it is important to try to understand what happened and why. – dj”

Actually I don’t spend a lot of time watching television. My life is too busy this year to do so.

I have been involved with some form of journalism since high school either as a writer or a photographer. To date myself that would a period that covers 19 years. In the military I was an intelligence analyst for 6 years with additional skill trainings in cryptography and a crash course on interrogation. Currently I am a fraud analyst for a well known internet company. My job for years has been to dissect information presented with strict attention to detail in order to find the inconsistancies as well as the patterns. I’m sadly cursed with this.

Your accusation of fraud does not make sense. I’m not claiming to have the answers. I’m not luring people in with false promises. This is my blog which is pretty much unlimited space. I can discuss whatever I want here, whether it is objective facts, personal observations, or conclusions. I have enough background over my years to safely say I know how to draw conclusions. You obviously have unanswered questions about the shootings, or you wouldn’t have come to this site. You also don’t trust your own opinions or thoughts on the subject, or you wouldn’t have clicked through. It strikes me more as an attempt to see if I really would publish someone’s comment that doesn’t even slightly support what i say. I am ok with that. The only part of your comment that talks about the shooting is the opening line.

If you truly understood my writings, as well as followed my comments on the RS site, you would understand why I have been writing these entries and comments.

Mark Boal is an irresponsible greedy writer. I don’t think I am even going to give him any credit as being a journalist. RS made some poor business decisions in running the story the way did. Period.

As I have said before. I agree with profiling killers in order to study and learn from their past in the name of science. I also believe that the investigative reporting and ultimate written conclusions should be as objective and complete as possible. Mark Boal stopped at the halfway mark. If you can’t finish the job correctly….then don’t do it. Out of respect for the people that have been impacted that day in December, don’t do it.

Yes these things happen everywhere. I’m sure you have your share of events in Memphis as well. I’m not naive that way. Communities pull through them. Things of this magnitude don’t happen in Omaha all that often. Yes people get killed here (my grandfather was a Methodist Minister who was murdered here 9 years ago). We have a certain amount of pride here. Most people that live here, actually want to live here. If you are from the bigger cities, unfortunately you are calloused towards crime and violence. You get up brush it off, and stumble upon your way waiting to see what the next corner brings. You choose that life. We in Omaha, did not choose that life. We have never dealt with that level of tragedy within these city limits. I feel that we did a great job in getting back up, brushing ourselves off and then deciding as a community to move forward. Last I knew, there was not a copy of Community Recovery From Tragedy for Dummies available. For Mark Boal to hold up his Olympic scorecard on our performance (“Bob, we seem to have some trouble with the Yugoslavian judge”) is ludicrous. Mark, if we sucked at recovery, then you should have found out why instead of throwing the comments out there and then not backing them up with actual facts. Would have made a difference if you were actually here those following weeks and for Von Maur’s reopening. You’d realize some of what you wrote was not true. I sure hope you didn’t take Molly’s input on what happened – she snowed you bad.

DJ, I think you meant well, and your post I assure you was reread several times. I even called some people I know and read it to them. I could not figure out what exactly your point was, nor could they. It almost seems like you deleted some sentences out in between some of the lines, but forgot to adjust the rest of what you said to make sure it made sense. Anyways, thanks for stopping by and good luck to you.

Amazing

08/15/2008 Leave a comment

I didn’t know exactly what would happen when i posted the response to Rolling Stone‘s article about Robert Hawkins. I will say it has been an interesting adventure watching those post comments on the RS site. I know my comments have generated almost 200 hits on my blog post from Aug 9th. Though I was disappointed that only 3 left comments. I approved all of them, didn’t delete anyone.

I still feel as though several missed what my point was. As I stated on the RS site, I do agree that some level of reporting should be done that details the life of the criminal when it is of this magnitude. This is needed for research and for historical documentation. What I do not agree with are some of the distasteful gimmicks that journalists and publications use to glamorize the situation.

Mark Boal reported on a tragedy that consisted of one family member’s point of view. The sad part is that really, Molly didn’t know Robbie as well as what she wants us to believe. She is in it for the money. Having been a freelance photographer, I also wanted to point out that my impression of this story and how it was acquired and published goes as follows…

…Mark Boal proposes an idea for a story, and in some cases would probably prewrite some of it, or even all of it. It is then submitted to the magazine or newspaper for consideration for publishing. If it is accepted, he would then finish writing it, or if it is written, Rolling Stone then sends him a check for the rights to run the story. I don’t believe Molly would have been paid by Rolling Stone. If anything, Mark Boal would have had to pay her, and that is totally up to the two of them to negotiate. In my research of Mark Boal, I found he has had only two other Rolling Stone articles over a few years which does not make him a staff writer, it makes him a freelance journalist. What I discovered is that you don’t have to have common sense or a sense of morality to be a freelance journalist, you just have to know how to mix certain keywords into your writing and your proposal letter to make your story sell. Who cares who you screw along the way as long as the check is in the mail and is signed with your name on the Pay To line. Too bad Rolling Stone didn’t save some of that red ink for the blood spatter to spray across his check…blood money.

I’m also a little disappointed that Mr. Boal has not responded to any of the posts on RS. Write the story, collect the check and disappear from the face of the earth until the next “forgotten” tragedy seems to be healing nicely.

You’re Going to Be Known as an Idiot

08/09/2008 4 comments

I recently was moved by an article that Rolling Stone magazine ran about the shootings that took place in the Von Maur Department Store at Westroads Mall here in Omaha, NE. The following has been sent to each Omaha television station, two Omaha radio stations, MSNBC, The Omaha World Herald, and also sent to Rolling Stone. There was too much here to post on their site. I actually wrote this last night Aug 8th.

 

Everyone Will Recognize You as Some Sort of an Idiot

  

I received a call from a female friend of mine this afternoon. She was telling me that the latest issue of Rolling Stone , #1059, August 21, 2008, contained a front cover headline and inside story of eight pages about the teenage gunman that took the lives of eight individuals before killing himself on December 5, 2007. Location of the scene was in an upscale department store located in Westroads Mall in Omaha, Nebraska.

 

I have followed this story closely, as the tragedy took place less than 3 miles from where I currently live. I recall my ex-wife calling that afternoon to inform me that she was being sent to the scene for shots fired. She is a police officer and was actually working as part of President Bush’s Security Force for his visit that morning. There were several officers from multiple departments working that day because of the President.

 

Some of what my friend described about the article to include the graphics and photos used, made me sit back and wonder what was wrong with the journalist responsible for writing it and the reason Rolling Stone would make a terrible decision to publish it.

 

“It has blood spatter behind the text,” she said in disbelief, though she was looking right at it. Blood spatter? What the hell is wrong with these people? I decided I needed to see it for myself.  I took a shower and headed up the street to a Walgreens and picked up a copy. There it was on the front cover, “Eight Dead at the Mall – A Tale of an Everyday Massacre”. Looking over the other headlines which included “Michael Moore – How the Democrats Can Blow It”; “Mellencamp’s New Blues”; and “To Hell and Back With Robert Downey Jr.” which featured Mr. Downey wearing an orange hoodie that seemed to remind me of county prisoner attire. I had to look at the magazine title once more, as I was sure it was a copy of the magazine that I recall as a teenager being about musicians, concerts and the recording industry. This disappointingly resembled a broadcast of any TV network’s national news. This issue was too depressing to make me even want to spend the $4.50 on it. I bought it anyway, cursing myself to the checkout for contributing to the sales figures of this garbage.

 

I found the article on page 73, and sat back to read it.

 

I immediately had an issue with the subtitle that the author, Mark Boal had written. He sums it up like executive summary for a Stephen King Fairytale. “A troubled teenager. An assault rifle. Eight slain in a mall. It was national news for a few days. Then it was forgotten.” Behind the headline and subtitle lay a splatter of red ink to resemble violent blood splatter for dramatic effect. I ignored my immediate thoughts about this and decided to start reading. I already had some issues and questions regarding previous media coverage of the series of events up to the shootings, and decided to give this journalist the benefit of the doubt and actually read through his work.

 

The story starts out describing the events as with Robert Hawkins, 19, entering the Von Maur Department store located in Westroads Mall. The events immediately detailed as to which victim was shot in various areas and levels of the store. I was disappointed to see that only one victim’s name and age were actually published.  This either told me that the author did not follow up with victim’s families, could not get cooperation from them, or was just too lazy or inconsiderate.

 

As I read the author’s account of that day, thinking of the victims, I again was distracted by the red ink blood splatter that was placed behind each photo caption and large typed blurb. Six of the eight pages of the story had some sort of blood splatter on it. Where was the sensitivity to the victims and the families of those that died that day, to include those of Robbie Hawkins? Did it not occur to the author or to Rolling Stone, that the graphical representation of blood splatter might upset those that were injured that day? The families of those that lost their lives, that find the courage to open to page 73 and find red ink splatter jumping out at them. I’m sure that this was taken into deep consideration before placing it. Absolutely disgusting.

 

Mr. Boal then follows the day’s events with an insult to the Omaha communities. Rather than take a moment to acknowledge the names of the victims of that day, he immediately begins discussing his disappointment with how quickly national media coverage dropped, even to include local coverage. And if that wasn’t enough, begins to criticize Von Maur for what he refers to as a quick reopening after being “speed-cleaned and reopened, just in time for the holiday rush”.  He points out that there was no memorial fountain or any sort of memorial gesture in place at reopening, just additional security. He also comments on how the shoppers went on about their holiday shopping as if to be unaware what had taken place just weeks before.

 

Evidently Mr. Boals was not in town during those previous weeks, or he would have seen exactly how the community pulled together. The decision was made by the community to move on and continue with living. The author would have also noted the snowflakes left by children, flowers, stuffed animals, and cards. 

 

 If we dwell on what can not be changed, we only slow ourselves down.  

 

Mr. Boals almost writes these passages as if his hunger for the macabre was not satisfied from afar. Criticisms to media in general for teenage killing sprees receiving very little coverage after Columbine and describing the genre of events as being a “horrifying novelty”.  Regarding the Von Maur shootings he said media coverage “amounted to just a few days’ worth of news and infotainment”. Mr. Boals should probably take note that the media may be showing some indications of coverage responsibilities of these events and to not allow them to become glamorized. It seems that some of the more common events like this have involved shooters/killers referencing how famous they will become. Not famous by word of mouth, but by mass media that is always looking for the fresh breaking story, or the event that just seems to be too extraordinary to have been fabricated. I’m actually appalled that the author could even criticize what he feels was coverage that was too short. Local media in Omaha, continued covering the story for several days with follow-up interviews with victims, witnesses, law enforcement, etc.

 

In fact, at this time, I have to question the timing of Rolling Stone’s decisions to run this story. The incident took place ten months before the story. The last media run of this story was in May 2008, preceded by March 2008.  Victims’ families finally are getting some peace and a quiet moment to recover from their previous interviews and media attention. Mr Boals, put yourself in their shoes for this. Just when you think it is quieting down, and you can once again take a breath, here comes another story complete with blood splatter. We are now 3 months from the 1st anniversary, as if that won’t be hard enough for those directly affected. It will be hard for the rest of the community as well.

 

Some additional lack of reporting responsibility regarding Mr. Boals efforts with this half-assed attempt at throwing together a story. He references the decline of several thousands of farm jobs working with corn and soybeans as being the “decent jobs”. Several thousands of high school drop outs in Nebraska are “roaming the plains with nothing to do”. This about made me gag when I read this part. That’s like being dumbfounded why a child born in Detroit ends up working at a bowling alley instead of for an automobile manufacturer just because the plants have cut jobs and downsized. Get a clue and actually have some consideration for what you write about.

 

In regards to Robbie’s mother, Molly Rodriguez, this woman needs some psychiatric care. Clearly any journalist with a heartbeat should have been able to recognize the issues at hand here, even amongst his own interview process.

 

She is shown in one part of the story as a unfaithful wife that is constantly coming home to her husband with evidence of multiple partners outside of the marriage. Then later is telling Robbie not to take the breakup with his girlfriend so hard since monogamy is not expected at such a young age. Contradictions exist in this interview and those of previous reporters. In one, she is advising that she didn’t notice the gun missing until after Robbie left that night after dinner. This RS interview shows her noticing the next day. The questioning issue with this would be the routine of checking the guns that were located in the closet. I don’t know a lot of people that own an AK47 rifle. Those that I do know that could have one, would keep it locked in a gun cabinet, especially if ammunition is present and children live at home. What part of her daily routine prompts her to have take inventory of the household firearms?

 

Who takes the time to write an autobiography that clearly makes you out to be less than a respectable woman? Coincidentally happens to finish the book just before the shootings took place and feels the need to celebrate with dinner and drugs with Robbie. I believe that Molly may have started writing the autobiography (if there is one) sometime after grieving Robbie’s loss. During this time she would have time to review her own life to figure out what happened. She probably found it amusing enough to write about it. Knowing that Robbie’s actions would put her in a public eye, if even for a short time, she could use this as a time to springboard a potential book or movie deal. Coincidentally, along comes Mr. Boals knocking for the interview, Ms Rodriguez saw this as a perfect time to be able to try to land a book deal or a movie deal about the events of her life. Once you see Mark Boals’s resume, you will understand why as well. She clearly shared this with him, as he pointed it out in the story as well. Relevance to the story is still unknown. Makes me wonder what she did with him while he was here for the interview.

 

Molly who allowed her child…her “baby boy” to have drugs in the house, encourage the sales of drugs, and to even participate in getting stoned with him. How could she possibly remember any important details of the night before if she was sharing dope with her son? My instinct tells me Molly knows more about what happened those weeks before than she is letting on.

 

There is no mention of interviewing Robbie’s father. If attempts were made, there was no indication of failure. How can you take the side of the story based on an uninvolved mother that uses drugs with her children, allows sexual activity in the house, consistently contradicts her credibility by not remembering what she has told previous reporters?

 

The end of the story is extremely abrupt, as if he was just tired of writing and handed it over. This was also disappointing, as the writer addresses the lack of community remembrance in the opening subtitle, but fails to investigate and report the findings on why this could have happened.

 

Who is Mark Boal?  Internet research does not produce any actual biographical information with the exception of finding that he wrote the screenplay for “In the Valley of Elah”.  Another story called “Death by Deception” about a team of elite soldiers involved with the Iraqi conflict conspiring to murder and cover-up a fellow team members death. Some similarities in Mr. Boals’s writing seems to revolve around somebody did something wrong and here’s my way of trying to prove that outside circumstances are responsible. This ends up causing the writer to “report” in an editorial style, but mix enough factual reporting that was found on other journalist’s online accounts, that it essentially is a snow job over the desk of an editor. I reread the story and found that Mr. Boals worked some pretty serious opinions in between his accounts.

 

Other similarities, is the use of the word “massacre” seems to find its way into the journalist’s headlines. And for some reason, there always seems to a military twist that involves an AK47.

 

Overall I was disappointed in the lack of responsible reporting. Mr. Boals shows the ability to write, but lacks the ability to report objectively and factually. I can only imagine how others in the community are going to react to this insult to those of us in Omaha and its communities.

 

A note to my fellow Nebraskans that are offended, I have sent this to local media, and will also be sending it to Rolling Stone. Let’s see if RS publishes it.