Omaha Police Officer Killed In Shootout With Suspect Was New Mom

This photo provided by the Omaha Police Department shows officer Kerrie Orozco. A suspect being sought by police for an Omaha shooting opened fire on officers Wednesday, May 20, 2015, promoting a shootout that left O... This photo provided by the Omaha Police Department shows officer Kerrie Orozco. A suspect being sought by police for an Omaha shooting opened fire on officers Wednesday, May 20, 2015, promoting a shootout that left Orozco and the suspect dead, according to Police Chief Todd Schmaderer. (Omaha Police Department via AP) MORE LESS
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OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A Nebraska man opened fire Wednesday on officers who were trying to arrest him for a previous shooting, prompting police to return gunfire in a shootout that left one officer and the suspect dead,Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer said.

Officer Kerrie Orozco, 29, died at Creighton University Medical Center shortly after the 1 p.m. shooting, Schmaderer said at a news conference. Schmaderer said the suspect, 26-year-old Marcus Wheeler, also died at the hospital.

Schmaderer said Orozco was part of a fugitive task force looking for Wheeler to serve a felony arrest warrant. Wheeler, who was wanted on a warrant charging him in an earlier shooting, opened fire on the officers as they approached him. Officers fired back, and Wheeler was later found behind a neighbor’s house suffering from gunshot wounds, the chief said.

A semi-automatic handgun was also found on Wheeler, Schmaderer said.

“Mr. Wheeler is a convicted felon and a known gang member,” he said.

Orozco was a seven-year veteran of the department and worked in its gang unit, Schmaderer said. She was also a new mother with a premature baby who is in an Omaha hospital.

“(The baby) is set to be released from the hospital tomorrow,” Schmaderer said, his voice breaking.

It’s been more than 10 years since an Omaha officer was killed in the line of duty, when Officer Jason “Tye” Pratt was shot and killed in September 2003, while chasing down a fleeing suspect. The suspect, 21-year-old Albert Rucker of Omaha, was in turn shot and killed by another officer.

Orozco is the first female Omaha police officer to die in the line of duty, according to a list on the Officer Down Memorial online page.

Besides her daughter, Orozco is survived by her husband, Hector Orozco, two stepchildren ages 6 and 7, her mother and two siblings.

Kerrie Orozco coached baseball at an Omaha Boys and Girls Club, was a Special Olympics volunteer and served as president of the Police Officers’ Ball to benefit the Special Olympics, the chief said. She also took in rescue dogs and was a Girl Scout mentor.

“She was a friend, a popular officer,” Schmaderer said. “I just can’t even imagine that this has happened. The city of Omaha owes her and her family a debt of gratitude.”

Dr. Michael Wagner, a trauma critical care surgeon at the hospital, said his team provided “aggressive care” to both Orozco and Wheeler, but neither could be revived. Paramedics had performed CPR on both the officer and the suspect as they were taken to the hospital.

Tiffany Atkins, who lives less than a block from where the shooting happened, said she heard between five and 10 shots Wednesday afternoon in the Florence neighborhood in north Omaha, made up mostly of tudor-style brick homes along tree-lined streets. She said she took shelter in her basement and heard police cars swarming the scene within seconds of the shooting.

“I was raised in this neighborhood,” Atkins said. “This makes me want to move.”

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Notable Replies

  1. RIP. This is why folks intuitively respect police officers. Because in the end, it’s a profession that requires some of them to sacrifice in order to protect the rest of us.

    Having said that, I do believe that if the current trend of many police departments - where they confront rather than protect the public they serve, where they do everything to protect themselves vs us, where they essentially try to put themselves above the law they themselves are supposed to enforce - continues, that respect will not last. You can already see this trend happening in way too many places in the US. It’s a pretty sad situation, really.

  2. Orozco’s newborn daughter will never know her mother and how brave she was. How incredibly sad that is. I hope the rest of the family does what it can to keep her memory alive for the girl.

  3. Very sad. Life was just getting going for her.

    And I suppose this means that they won’t override Ricketts’ veto on the death penalty ill :frowning:

  4. Very sad.We have a pretty decent police department here in Omaha, I think. There have been a couple of bad policing incidents in the last few years, and the cops have been punished or fired. I know someone who worked in the department (civilian) who saw some stereotypical cop behavior, including racism, but community relations are better than in many places. Or that’s my perception, not living in any of the gang neighborhoods.

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