Omaha Police Department Officer Jeffrey Wittstruck was dispatched to Westroads Mall’s JCPenney store, where security had reported a suspected shoplifter, the police department said in a news release.
The 21-year old male suspect was detained by store security after he was seen putting t-shirts in his backpack and leaving without paying for them.
Wittstruck spoke with the suspect who was not “forthcoming or cooperative,” police said. The officer then directed him to remove his backpack, but the alleged suspect “stood up and placed his right hand in his sweatshirt pocket,” according to the release.
The suspect refused to show his hands, and when Wittstruck attempted to arrest him, a struggle ensued. The suspect “pulled a gun out of his sweatshirt pocket and fired four shots” at Wittstruck, who was struck in the face and the top of his head, the release said.
The suspect fled the scene and was later arrested by a Nebraska State Patrol trooper following a high-speed chase, police said. He faces charges including attempted murder and use of a weapon to commit a felony.
Wittstruck was transported to the Nebraska Medical Center in critical condition but is “stable and recovering,” according to police. Wittstruck has been with the department since 2016.
“Our prayers are with Officer Wittstruck and his family for a full recovery,” police chief Todd Schmaderer said in the release.