OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - An Omaha Police Department spokeswoman said Friday evening that authorities had a suspect in the shooting of an officer at Westroads Mall in custody following a high-speed chase that ended near Waverly.
OPD spokeswoman Sherie Thomas said the officer was alert and will need surgery. The officer, who was responding to a shoplifting report at JCPenney when he was shot, was taken to Nebraska Medicine in critical condition.
His condition was upgraded to “stable” later Friday night.
OPD officials said the incident began with the report of a shoplifting incident. Thomas said OPD regularly responds to such calls.
Officers responded to a “help an officer” call around 4 p.m. Friday. OPD Chief Todd Schmaderer said in an update about an hour later outside the mall that several shots were fired after a struggle, and the suspect was at-large. OPD then set up a perimeter around the area, and Able 1 was circling the mall.
Nebraska State Patrol started pursuing a suspect at 5:23 p.m. at the Gretna interchange, mile marker 433, of Interstate 80, Thomas said.
Officials told 6 News the NSP pursuit headed west past Waverly, reaching speeds of more than 140mph. At 5:42 p.m. suspect taken into custody without incident on Highway 6, Thomas said, and a gun was found at that scene.
Video from the mall helped authorities identify the vehicle, which led to the pursuit, Thomas said. There was no one else in the vehicle with the suspect, she said, and authorities were not looking for any additional suspects in the shooting.
The incident left shoppers inside shocked and confused. One witness who said he was shopping inside the mall when the shooting happened said stores started slamming down their security shutters.
An Omaha Crimestoppers spokesman issued a reminder Friday that an enhanced reward of $10,000 is offered for a tip leading to the arrest of the shooting suspect.
In December 2007, another part of Westroads Mall was the scene of a mass shooting when eight shoppers and Von Maur staff were killed in the store, and several others were injured, some of them critically, needing extensive surgery and rehabilitation.
Local, state officials respond
“Aubrey and I would like to offer our support and prayers to the family of the Omaha Police Officer shot by a shoplifting suspect at Westroads Mall. We are thankful that the officer is awake and alert, and that the suspect is in custody.
This officer put their life on the line for the residents of Omaha. Our police officers, and all of our public safety officials, deserve our gratitude and respect for placing themselves in harm’s way to keep us safe. As family members of police officers we are both thankful to the men and women of the Omaha Police Department and all they do to keep our community safe.”
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