Homicide detectives say a 47-year-old Omaha man fatally shot his girlfriend before attempting to kill himself Saturday while parked in a car near 72nd and L Streets.
Officer Jacob Bettin, a police spokesman, said Sunday that Rita J. Eckhout, 35, of Omaha was pronounced dead at the scene. The suspected gunman, Mitchel L. Hadan, was reported in critical but stable condition at Creighton University Medical Center.
“Detectives with the homicide unit believe that Mitchel Hadan shot and killed Rita Eckhout,” Bettin said. “He then attempted to take his own life.''
The incident occurred about 5:40 p.m. Saturday. An Omaha police officer, thinking a motorist needed assistance, stopped his cruiser and approached a sports car that was stopped on the ramp from 72nd Street to eastbound L Street.
The officer spoke with Hadan, who was behind the wheel. On his way back to his cruiser to position it to divert traffic, the officer heard two gunshots.
The officer, who was not identified, did not fire his weapon, according to Lt. Darci Tierney, a police spokeswoman. There were no other injuries.
Nathan Eckhout, a brother of the deceased woman, said his sister and Hadan met about five years ago and have a 3-year-old son who lives with relatives of his mother.
Hadan has a long criminal history and served nearly 10 years in prison for robbery, two counts of theft, attempted third-degree assault on a peace officer and use of a deadly weapon to commit a felony. He began his sentence in March 1997 and was released in September 2006.
Nathan Eckhout, who lives in Litchfield, Neb., said his sister graduated in 1994 from Amherst High School in Amherst, Neb. Rita Eckhout played basketball, volleyball and ran track in high school.
“She did all the normal activities,” her brother said.
After graduating, Rita Eckhout became licensed in cosmetology and moved to Omaha. Her brother said he did not know whether his sister had been employed recently.
The Eckhout family was aware of Hadan's criminal background. Nathan Eckhout said he was “pretty worried” about his sister's safety.
“I don't know what to say about this right now,” he said. “We're still pretty much in shock.”
Services for Rita Eckhout will be arranged through Rasmussen Funeral Home of Ravenna, Neb. In addition to her son and brother, she is survived by her mother, Eva Eckhout of Amherst; sister, Tara Urwiller of Amherst; and another brother, Byron Eckhout of Kearney, Neb.
Bill Hadan, a brother of Mitchel Hadan, said his family would have no comment.
Saturday's death was the city's first homicide of the new year. In 2010, the city had 34 homicides.
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