An Omaha police officer was shot four times while responding to a shoplifting phone call

Jeffrey Wittstruck, an Omaha police officer, was sent to the JCPenney store on Westroads Mall where security had reported a suspected shoplifter, police said in a press release.

The 21-year-old male suspect was arrested by store security after being seen putting t-shirts in his backpack and leaving without paying.

Wittstruck spoke to the suspect, who was not “accommodating or cooperative,” the police said. The officer then instructed him to remove his backpack, but the alleged suspect “stood up and put his right hand in his sweatshirt pocket,” the press release said.

The suspect refused to show his hands and when Wittstruck tried to arrest him, a fight ensued. The suspect “pulled a gun out of his sweatshirt pocket and shot four shots” at Wittstruck, who was slapped in the face and on the top of his head.

The suspect fled the scene and was later arrested by a Nebraska State Patrol soldier after a high-speed hunt, police said. He is charged, among other things, with attempted murder and the use of a weapon to commit a crime.

Wittstruck was taken to Nebraska Medical Center in critical condition but is “stable and recovering” according to police. Wittstruck has been in the department since 2016.

“Our prayers are with Officer Wittstruck and his family for a full recovery,” said Police Chief Todd Schmaderer on the release.

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