The incident began when the suspect tried to steal a package of t-shirts.

By Jon Haworth

A police officer has been shot in his face and the top of his head after responding to a shoplifting call at a department store.

The incident occurred on Friday, March 12 at approximately 3:27 p.m. at a JC Penney’s department store in Omaha, Nebraska, when Officer Jeffrey Wittstruck was dispatched to a report of a shoplifter who had been detained by security after they allegedly observed him taking a package of t-shirts and placing them in his backpack before attempting to exit the establishment without paying for them, according to the Omaha Police Department.

Omaha Police Department/Facebook
Officer Jeffrey Wittstruck of the Oklahoma Police Department was shot on March 12 at approximately 3:27 p.m. at a JC Penney’s department store in Omaha, Nebraska, by a shoplifter who had been detained after taking a package of t-shirts.

Authorities say that the suspect, later confirmed to be 21-year-old Kenya Lamont Jenkins Jr., initially gave store security a fake name and was not forthcoming or cooperative after being stopped.

The situation escalated quickly after Officer Wittstruck, who has been with the Omaha Police Department since September 2016, arrived on the scene.

Wittstruck attempted to arrest Jenkins when the suspect pulled a gun out of his sweatshirt pocket and fired four times at Wittstruck, who was hit in his face and the top of his head.

Officer Wittstruck’s firearm had not been removed from its holster and was not fired at any point in the altercation with Jenkins.

“Officer Wittstruck fell to the ground and Jenkins ran out of the office,” said Schmaderer. “There were no security cameras in the office but Officer Wittstruck’s body-worn camera recorded the entire incident. Security cameras recorded the suspect fleeing out of the store and driving away in a white BMW.”

Omaha Police Department/Facebook
Officer Jeffrey Wittstruck of the Oklahoma Police Department was shot on March 12 at approximately 3:27 p.m. at a JC Penney’s department store in Omaha, Nebraska, by 21-year-old Kenya Lamont Jenkins Jr. who had been detained after taking a package of t-shirts.

Officer Joseph Kunza subsequently arrived on scene and, along with JC Penney employees, provided aid to Wittstruck before he was transported to the Nebraska Medical Center.

Officer Wittstruck is now in stable condition and recovering from the gunshot wounds suffered in the altercation.

Said Police Chief Schmaderer: “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.”

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