Target store in west Omaha to remain closed as police investigate shooting
OPD: Active-shooter situation thwarted Tuesday when officers kill gunman at 180th & Center location
OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - A Target store in west Omaha will remain closed as police continue to investigate a fatal shooting incident Tuesday that many witnesses told 6 News could have been far more deadly.
Omaha Police on Tuesday afternoon were asking the public to avoid the area around a Target location in west Omaha after a gunman was shot at killed at the store.
At 11:59 a.m., Omaha Police officers were dispatched to the Target location near 180th Street and West Center Road after reports of shots fired in the store. A heavy police presence was seen at the location shortly after noon.
“You saw all the police officers here; everybody in the city responded to this call if they were able to,” Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer said at a briefing later in the parking lot of a nearby store.
Omaha Police said in a tweet at 12:22 p.m. that “officers are clearing the store at this time” and that there were an “unknown number of victims as the investigation is in the early stages.” At 12:52 p.m., the OPD account said the scene was secure after three searches, but advised the public to avoid the area while they continued their investigation.
FBI personnel were seen checking cars in the parking lot after that. Schmaderer later confirmed that local, state, and federal authorities had responded to the initial call.
In a news conference about an hour after the incident, the chief said that a white man in his 30s walked into the store and began firing immediately as entered, though police didn’t yet know whether the man was firing at anyone in particular or whether he was specifically targeting anyone there.
A Nebraska State trooper along with OPD officers arrived and shot the shooter, killing him.
“The first arriving officers went into the building, confronted the suspect, and shot him dead,” Schmaderer said.
OPD said the man had an AR-15-style rifle and 13 loaded magazines of ammunition, and fired multiple shots in the store.
CAN YOU HELP? Omaha Police are asking anyone with information on Tuesday’s incident at the Target store at 180th and Center to call them at 402-444-4877.
“Officers issued numerous loud verbal commands ordering the suspect to drop the rifle. An Omaha Police officer then fired their service handgun striking the suspect who was declared deceased by Omaha Fire Department personnel as a result of the incident,” according to an OPD news release sent Tuesday night.
No other victims have been reported, and Omaha Police have confirmed no victims from the scene have turned up at area hospitals.
Schmaderer said at least 29 911 calls had come in reporting the incident, and he praised the swift response from authorities.
“When you have a mass shooter in your city, you want a massive response like this,” Schmaderer said.
Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert also commended the quick response by authorities in a statement:
“Omaha Police saved many lives today by their quick actions to prevent a mass casualty event at Target. Omaha Police officers are highly trained to respond to and assess life-threatening situations. Their bravery and high level of skill should be commended.”
Target Stores released a brief statement on Twitter, noting the store would remain closed “until further notice.”
Target gave more details Tuesday evening, stating that employees would be paid while the store was closed and that they would provide access to on-site counseling for those who need it.
“We thank the Omaha Police Department for their fast response, and we continue to partner with them on their investigation,” the latest statement says.
The store said it would work with Omaha Police to allow shoppers to retrieve personal property they may have left in the store or in the parking lot.
Sarpy and Douglas county sheriff’s departments are assisting the OPD Officer Involved Investigations team as it examines the incident.
Tuesday’s incident was the second fatal officer-involved shooting in Omaha in less than a day. Two OPD officers were hurt in a gun battle with a man at a storage facility Monday night.
The 38-year-old killed in the exchange of gunfire had been wanted on two bench warrants stemming from incidents involving a woman he had been in a relationship with; he had also served prison sentences for drug-related and theft offenses.
‘I WAS SURE I WAS GONNA DIE’
Witnesses told 6 News that about 15 customers and some employees shut themselves into storage containers in the back northeast corner of the store.
Jasmine Gascar was hiding in a fitting room while there was an active shooter in the store, hearing 10-15 shots.
“I was sure I was gonna die.”
She told 6 News that she recently moved to Omaha from Texas and frequents that Target store, located near her workplace, during her lunch breaks.
Gascar praised the quick response of Omaha Police.
“I think a minute more — who knows?” she said, emotional at the thought of what could have happened while remembering seeing children leaving the store after it was all over.
“I never thought this would happen to me, ever. ... This has to stop. We can’t live like this. We can’t live like this. ... I just can’t believe our kids are growing up with this,” she said.
Another witness told 6 News he was picking up a prescription at the pharmacy when a shot was heard. He said two more shots were fired and about nine others around ran for the front door, with two more shots fired as he ran into the parking lot. They ran to the Sleep Number store next door and staff there locked them in the rear of the store.
Remus Smolksy was also in the store at the time of the shooting. He spoke to 6 News and described what he saw.
“Then I saw people running out, and I saw a lady carrying her two kids that looked terrified, pushing a cart. And one of the employees said that there was a shooter. And so I made sure the line of people got out,” Smolksy said. “And then I saw another lady coming out of the storage area with two kids. I was at the flap doors, then she got out and went out the back door of the warehouse. I went in, and I looked left down at the frozen area, and I looked right all the way down to the other end of the store I could see, and I couldn’t see anyone else in there. That’s when I heard something else that sounded like a shotgun.”
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