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Thursday, December 7

For much of the day after the Omaha mall shooting, we were set up outside the home Robert Hawkins lived, before he shot more than a dozen innocent people and himself.

The family that took him in a year ago did some interviews in the hours after the rampage, but by the next day they'd apparently grown tired of the cameras and reporters (which I completely understand) and politely declined my request.

Later, as a steady stream of media trampled a path through the snow to their front steps, they taped a sign to their door reading "NO COMMENT. Please respect our privacy in this terrible situation."

Meanwhile, neighbors shoveled or snowblowed their sidewalks and driveways and some little kids rode sleds down small hills in the yards and it struck me how quickly people fall back into their routines.

We can't change what's already happened and life must go on and normalcy is comforting in the face of unexpected horrors.

The danger in the aftermath of any event like this is when people simply forget. Lessons that should be learned aren't and warning signs ignored the first time are more likely to be missed again.

Robert Hawkins was deeply disturbed and took his twisted anger to homicidal levels. His actions were sick and perverted but unfortunately, while he may be a rare case, there are others like him who need help or discipline or they too may act out in ways that will leave more people hurt or dead.

Let's celebrate the good in our world, but please let's not ignore the bad. It could come back to haunt us again very soon.

Wednesday, December 5

After an early call and a day of outdoor live shots in a cold and snowy lower Manhattan, I was looking forward to a dinner out with my girlfriend and a light load for the rest of the week, as I prepare for overseas travel Saturday night.

Just as I got home and took my coat off, my blackberry vibrated with an email from my bureau chief.

"Call me."

I knew about the mall shooting and figured I was gonna get the question.

Sure enough, after "Hello," she said, "Can you go to Omaha?"

I was surprised, considering she knew I was headed to Iraq in a couple of days.

"You can say no," she assured me, and I considered it, but this was a big story and I wanted to go — even though I wouldn't be able to stay long.

It took me a few seconds to decide. "There's a flight out of Newark at 8 p.m. tonight," she told me. It was already 5:25.

"OK," I told her. And I started packing.

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The plane was an ERJ commuter jet, with single seats on one side and two on the other — surprising, considering the flight was nearly four hours long.

Boarding was delayed about an hour.

There were a couple morning anchors from other networks seated nearby, along with several crews and producers. I wondered if all the gear made it on board.

I checked the Omaha forecast once I made it to my seat and realized I should've done it before I packed. Several inches of snow were forecast and I didn't bring heavy shoes.

Then I watched them de-ice the wings, opened my magazine, and settled in for the long ride.

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Rick Leventhal has been a New York-based correspondent with the FOX News Channel since June 1997. You can read his bio here.