Race Motive Probed in Sniper-Style Slaying

An Omaha woman was killed by a single shot as she waited at a drive-through.


Jan. 23, 2008 — -- A 19-year-old who authorities say fatally shot a 21-year-old woman sniper style as she sat in a fast food drive-through will be held without bond, a Nebraska judge ruled today.

Kyle Bormann was arrested Sunday night after he tried to flee from the Omaha crime scene. He was formally charged with first-degree murder in the death of Brittany Williams, who was struck in the head by a single shot from a high-powered rifle as she waited to pull up to the window at a combination Kentucky Fried Chicken and Long John Silver's. Bormann also faces a use of a weapon to commit a felony charge.

"We charged him with first-degree murder," Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine told ABC News. "Right now, I would say we don't know what the motive is, but that's still being investigated."

While there was no connection between the alleged gunman and victim, Klein said, authorities could not rule out that the murder may have been racially motivated. Bormann is white and Williams was black.

Authorities say that Bormann was parked in a Chrysler Sebring between 100 and 200 yards from Williams' car in the fast food chain's drive-through lane, according to ABC News' Omaha affiliate KETV. A bolt-action weapon owned by Bormann and outfitted with a scope was used. As investigators worked the crime scene, Bormann drove off, breaking through crime scene tape that had been set up.

Bormann, who was wearing hunting-style camouflage fatigues, later ditched the car and ran on foot, tossing the alleged weapon. "He had a rifle in his possession and threw that down," Kleine said, "and that's the rifle we now have in possession." Authorities captured him and recovered additional rounds of ammunition.

In an interview after his arrest, Bormann admitted to police that he had shot Williams, an assistant prosecutor said today in court, according to KETV.

Kleine said that his office will consider seeking the death penalty in what he described as a "very disturbing" crime that instantly made him think about the Dec. 5 massacre inside the Von Maur store at Westroads Mall in Omaha. In that case, 19-year-old Robert Hawkins opened fire on Christmas shoppers and mall employees, killing eight before he turned the gun on himself.

"That came to mind almost immediately," Kleine said. "There is a parallel when you think about it. With the Von Maur incident, people who were Christmas shopping were targeted. In this case, the lady is just at the drive-through ordering food. It's just totally random."

Hawkins was found to have only therapeutic levels of a prescription drug in his system at the time of the mall shooting, but had a documented history of mental illness.

Family members for both Bormann and Williams were reportedly in the courtroom during this morning's arraignment. John Kohl, the attorney representing Bormann, did not return a call from ABC News, but told KETV after the hearing that his client feels remorse for the Williams family. He said that his client has no history of violence or mental illness and that the alleged teen gunman's family is shocked by the shooting.

Asked about the possibility that the crime was racially motivated, Kohl said that it would have been too dark for his client to know the race of his victim.

Bormann's family released a statement Tuesday offering condolences to the Williams' family. "We do not understand why this happened, as we are still trying to figure it out for ourselves," the statement, provided in an e-mail to KETV, read. "We understand that there are absolutely no words that can change what happened in this tragic event and would like Brittany's family to know that they are in our thoughts and prayers every hour of every day."

Bormann had been charged with three minor crimes in South Dakota, KETV reported, including traffic violations and a drug possession charge that was later reduced.

Williams reportedly was a graduate of Northwest High School and a student at the University of Nebraska-Omaha, where she was studying to become a nurse, according to a MySpace tribute page devoted to Williams' memory. It was filled with items about the young woman participating in sorority events and behavior typical of a college student.

Many friends posted comments expressing sadness over the death. "I can see her smile, hear her voice, a cute little squeaky voice that I thought was hilarious," a friend identified as Tia wrote. "I remember her trendy style of dress, and her crazy shopping fetish that could almost compete with mine."

"I'll never forget the memories that my friend Brittany N. Williams (aka Ms. Diva) left me," Tia wrote. "I will eternally love her and miss her."

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