A Nebraska police officer is in stable condition after a shoplifting suspect shot him in the face and head on Friday at a JC Penney department store inside an Omaha mall.
Kenya Lamont Jenkins Jr., 21, was arrested after a high-speed chase and charged with attempted murder and the use of a weapon to commit a felony after he allegedly shot Officer Jeffrey Wittstruck four times when he was caught shoplifting at the Westroads Mall in Omaha.
Wittstruck had been dispatched to the JC Penney at 3.27pm after Jenkins was detained by store security after he was allegedly caught stuffing a package of T-shirts into his backpack, cops said in a news release.
Kenya Lamont Jenkins Jr., 21, seen in security image from the Westroads Mall in Omaha was arrested after a high-speed chase and charged with attempted murder and the use of a weapon to commit a felony
Jenkins, right, allegedly shot Officer Jeffrey Wittstruck, left, four times when he was caught stuffing a package of T-shirts into his backpack at the Westroads Mall in Omaha
Police have released a screenshot of body camera footage that appears to show Jenkins holding the handgun
Jenkins allegedly disobeyed orders to take his hands out of his sweatshirt pockets while being detained
A still from security footage released by cops allegedly shows Jenkins fleeing the scene in a white BMW
When police arrived, Jenkins – who had allegedly given store security a fake name — was sitting in a chair in the security office and was not cooperative with police.
Wittstruck ordered him to take off his backpack and Jenkins stood up and stuffed his right hand in his sweatshirt pocket.
The cop, who has been with the Omaha Police Department since September 2016, then ordered Jenkins to show his hands ‘multiple times’ but he refused, officials said.
Wittstruck told Jenkins he was under arrest and tried to put him into handcuffs, but was shoved by the suspect, starting a brief struggle.
The cop drew his taser and used it on Jenkins but it was ineffective, officials said.
Jenkins allegedly pulled a gun out of his sweatshirt pocket and shot Wittstruck four times – hitting him in the face and the top of his head. Wittstruck’s gun had not been removed from its holster and was not fired.
The suspect then ran out of the security office and fled in a white BMW when Wittstruck fell to the ground, police said.
Nebraska State Troopers found the car near a Pump and Pantry gas station and tried to perform a traffic stop but Jenkins led them on a high-speed chase reaching speeds over 140 mph.
Troopers successfully deployed stop sticks, deflating Jenkins’ tires on I-80 and arrested him.
Chief Todd Schmaderer addresses the media outside of the JC Penney where one of his officers was shot four times in the face and head
The suspect fled the mall in a white BMW when Wittstruck fell to the ground, cops said
Cops found a Taurus .380 subcompact, semi-automatic pistol in his possession, they said.
Footage taken by WOWT shows the suspect’s car sitting on train tracks off the highway and a photo obtained by the outlet appears to show Jenkins with his hands up wearing an orange shirt while troopers make their arrest.
Back at the mall, Officer Joseph Kunza arrived and helped JC Penney’s employees provid aid to the injured officer until he was transported by Omaha Fire Department medics to the Nebraska Medical Center in critical condition.
Wittstruck is now in stable condition and recovering from his injuries, officials said. KETV reported that he will need surgery.
When Jenkins got to police headquarters he began to complain of a minor leg injury and was tended to by medics, cops said.
A GoFundMe has since been started to help Officer Wittstruck’s family.
Omaha police and the Nebraska State Patrol respond to the scene where a shoplifting suspect allegedly shot an officer in the face
The Westroads Mall, pictured, was also the scene of a mass shooting in December 2007 during which Robert Hawkins, 19, shot and killed eight people
‘We are incredibly blessed by such an amazing and supportive community! Thank you all for blessing us during this challenging time. Jeff is in good spirits as he rests and heals up in the hospital. We are grateful to God for watching over him. Thank you again,’ his wife Kelsey Wittstruck wrote in an update to the fundraiser.
Trevor Benson, who organized the fund on behalf of Kelsey Wittstruck, wrote: ‘He is a loving husband and a father of three beautiful children. The officer is a devoted Christian with a love of his career, family, and God.’
The shooting was caught on Wittstruck’s body cam and cops released screenshots of Jenkins allegedly holding the handgun.
Security cameras from inside the mall caught Jenkins allegedly leaving with his backpack while wearing a blue hoodie and leaving in the white BMW.
Jenkins has a previous history of resisting arrests and escape, cops said.
‘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,’ Chief Todd Schmaderer said.
‘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.’
WOWT noted that the Westroads Mall was the scene of a mass shooting in December 2007 during which Robert Hawkins, 19, shot and killed eight people and wounded four others in the mall’s Von Maur department store before shooting himself dead.