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Mother of Omaha mall shooter apologizes for her son’s actions and says ’I did my best’

    OMAHA, Neb. — The mother of the teenage gunman who killed eight people at a busy shopping mall last week apologized Thursday for her son’s crime and said she did her best raising him.
    ‘‘I’m sorry. I’m sorry,’’ Maribel Rodriguez told ABC’s ‘‘Good Morning America’’ when asked what she would say to the victims’ families. ‘‘I’m deeply devastated with you.’’
    Her son, 19-year-old Robert Hawkins, fired more than 30 rounds inside a mall department store Dec. 5, striking 11 people. Eight of them died, and he killed himself. Families held funerals and memorial services for the victims this week.
    Rodriguez hasn’t had custody of Hawkins since her divorce with his father, which happened about 15 years ago. When he was a teenager, there was one period when she did not have contact with him for more than two years.
    ‘‘I’m not perfect, I know that,’’ she said during the televised interview. ‘‘But you tell me: What could I have done differently? I did my best.’’
    Rodriguez told The Associated Press that she sought psychiatric treatment after the shootings, and checked herself out to plan his funeral. She said she and her son had a good relationship, and she felt obligated to apologize for his actions.
    ‘‘I would never want for anyone to do what I have done these last couple days,’’ Rodriguez said.
    Hawkins was a troubled teenager who spent four years in a series of treatment centers, group homes and foster care after threatening to kill his stepmother in 2002. He had recently broken up with a girlfriend and lost his job at a McDonald’s.
    ‘‘He was without hope. He was without faith. He was without courage,’’ Rodriguez said during the televised interview. ‘‘Because you don’t do that to other people. You just don’t do that to other people.’’
    She and Hawkins ate supper together at the house of her ex-husband — Hawkins’ stepfather — the night before the shootings, Rodriguez said. The stepfather was vacationing in Thailand.
    ‘‘When I came back to the house, there was this sense, there was this air that something was wrong,’’ she said.
    She and police have said Hawkins took the assault rifle he used in the shootings from his stepfather’s closet.
    After he left foster care, Hawkins was returned to his father’s home in December 2005. He had left his father’s home some time before the shootings, and was living with Debora Maruca-Kovac and her husband, whose sons were friends with Hawkins, Maruca-Kovac has said.

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