Thousands of dollars have been raised in support of a Police Officer with the Omaha Police Department who was shot while pursuing a suspect accused of shoplifting at Westroads Mall on Friday.
According to the Omaha Police Department, the suspect, 21-year-old Kenya Jenkins, left OPD Officer Jeffrey Wittstruck in critical condition after shooting at him four times, striking him in both the face and head. Officer Jeffrey Wittstruck was transported to Nebraska Medical Center in Critical Condition.
The Omaha Police Department announced that Officer Wittstruck is recovering and is currently in stable condition, KETV 7 reported.
"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,” said Omaha police Chief Todd Schmaderer in a statement.
OPD said Jenkins will be charged with attempted murder and the use of a weapon to commit a felony.
The events that occurred on Friday started in JCPenny’s at Westroads Mall around 3:27 PM. Officer’s responded to the retail store after a loss prevention employee told officers that Jenkins put a package of T-shirts in a backpack and left the store without paying. When questioned by security, suspect Jenkins gave them a false identity. Officer Wittstruck engaged the suspect and began asking him questions.
According to OPD, Jenkins was placed under arrest after refusing to cooperate with officers. A struggle began as the suspect resisted arrest which led to Officer Wittstruck deploying his Taser on Jenkins, which did not work according to reports. During the struggle, Jenkins pulled a gun out of his sweatshirt and shot at Wittstruck before running out of the loss prevention office.
The Omaha Police Department said that Wittstruck's firearm was not removed from its holster nor was it fired. A manhunt for the suspect began after officers called in 'shots fired.'
The manhunt ended around 5:27 PM after a Nebraska State Patrol Trooper attempted a traffic stop after seeing Jenkins' car near a gas station. The suspect fled at roughly 140 mph. State Troopers deployed spike strips on the interstate, hitting the suspect’s vehicle, which ultimately led to the suspect’s arrest.
According to OPD Chief Kanger, 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.
Officer Wittstruck's wife said Saturday that "Jeff is in good spirits as he rests and heals up in the hospital. We are grateful to God for watching over him."