Central States Violent Crime

Omaha Police Officer Shot in Face and Head by Alleged Shoplifter

Omaha Police Officer Shot in Face and Head by Alleged Shoplifter

Omaha Police Officer Shot in Face and Head by Alleged Shoplifter

Omaha Police Officer Shot in Face and Head by Alleged Shoplifter

Suspect Kenya Jenkins

Suspect Kenya Jenkins

Omaha Police released the name of the suspect accused of shooting an officer at Westroads Mall Friday. Police say 21-year-old Kenya Jenkins shot OPD Officer Jeffrey Wittstruck four times, hitting him in the face and head.

OPD said Jenkins will be charged with attempted murder and the use of a weapon to commit a felony.

Wittstruck is stable and recovering. OPD said he’s worked with the department since September of 2016.

Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer released this statement about Wittstruck:

“Our prayers are with Officer Wittstruck and his family for a full recovery. On behalf of all Omaha Police Officers, thank you for the showing of support and concern. Omaha Police Officers answer 911 calls over and over again throughout the day to keep Omaha safe. It is important to remember the dangers officers put themselves in on each and every call; calls that must be answered because someone was in need.”

Officers responded to the JC Penney at Westroads Mall at 3:27 p.m. The department store’s loss prevention employee told officers that Jenkins put a package of T-shirts in a backpack and left the store without paying for them.

Police said Jenkins initially gave a false name to security.

Omaha police said Jenkins was not cooperative when Wittstruck tried to speak to him. Wittstruck asked Jenkins to take off his backpack and reports said Jenkins instead stood up and put his right hand in his sweatshirt pocket.

Police report Wittstruck asked Jenkins to show his hands multiple times, but Jenkins refused. Wittstruck began to place Jenkins under arrest police said Jenkins began to resist.

A struggle began and Wittstruck tried to use his taser on Jenkins, but reports said it did not work.

That’s when the release reports Jenkins pulled a gun out of his sweatshirt and shot at Wittstruck before running out of the loss prevention office.

A dispatcher checked in on Wittstruck over the police radio, to which he calmly responded: “Help. I’m down. I need help. I’m in the loss prevention office. I believe I’ve been shot.”

Omaha police said the incident was captured on Wittstruck’s body camera. An outdoor security camera recorded Jenkins driving away in a white car.

According to the police department, another officer and JCPenney’s employees provided aid to Wittstruck. Several agencies, including the Nebraska State Patrol, arrived and set a perimeter around Westroads looking for Jenkins.

OPD Deputy Chief Ken Kanger said officers worked with the utmost professionalism, despite knowing one of their own was seriously injured.

“You never want to hear those calls come out,” Kanger said. Everything stops and everyone goes to work to make sure the officer is safe and we get the individual off the streets as fast as possible. There was some tremendous collaboration that went on on Friday.”

Omaha Fire Department medics took Wittstruck to the Nebraska Medical Center in critical condition. Kanger said he is recovering but will require surgery.

Police said Wittstruck’s firearm was not removed from its holster and it was not fired.

At 5:22 p.m., OPD reported a Nebraska State Patrol Trooper saw Jenkins’ car near a gas station at the Gretna 432 exit. After an attempted traffic stop, police said Jenkins drove away at a high rate of speed going westbound on I-80.

Officials reported Jenkins drove at a rate of 140 miles per hour.

Investigator said troopers deployed stop sticks near the Waverly interchange on I-80 before Jenkins’ car exited onto Highway 6 and got stuck on railroad tracks. When troopers took Jenkins into custody troopers found a gun.

OPD says when Jenkins got to police headquarters he began to complain of a minor leg injury. Police said medics did not transport Jenkins but tended to the injury.

Investigators said Jenkins has a previous history that includes resisting arrest and escape. Police also said the investigation is ongoing.

Kanger said there has been a tremendous outpouring of support.

A GoFundMe organized for Wittstruck, his wife and three children has already raised more than $20,000.

“Law enforcement officers, when they go to work every single day, they put this community first. And they work extremely hard not knowing when they start their shift how it’s going to end, or what’s going to happen during the course of their shift,” Kanger said.

“This community is tremendous, they always rally around the Omaha Police Department.”

A post to the GoFundMe by Ofc. Wittstruck’s wife Saturday said “Jeff is in good spirits as he rests and heals up in the hospital. We are grateful to God for watching over him.”

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