Friday, March 12th 2021, at 3:27pm, Officer Jeffrey Wittstruck #2268 and Officer Joseph Kunza #2304 were dispatched to the JC Penney's store at the Westroads Mall, 10000 California Street for a shoplifter who had been detained by store security. Officer Wittstruck arrived at JC Penney's and made contact with security employees and a male suspect, who was sitting in a chair inside the security office.
A JC Penney's loss prevention employee advised that the suspect had been observed placing a package of t-shirts in his backpack and exited the store without paying for them. The suspect gave a false name to security and was later determined to be Kenya Lamont Jenkins Jr. (4/15/99). Officer Wittstruck spoke with Jenkins but Jenkins was not forthcoming or cooperative. Officer Wittstruck directed Jenkins to remove his backpack at which time Jenkins stood up and placed his right hand in his sweatshirt pocket.
Officer Wittstruck asked Jenkins to show his hands multiple times but Jenkins refused. Officer Wittstruck informed Jenkins he was under arrest and Jenkins remained uncooperative, pushing Officer Wittstruck away while he attempted to place handcuffs on Jenkins. A brief struggle ensued and Officer Wittstruck drew his taser, Jenkins refused all directives and placed his right hand back in his sweatshirt pocket.
Officer Wittstruck advised Jenkins he had a taser and deployed the probes which were ineffective. Officer Wittstruck attempted to arrest Jenkins and another struggle ensued. Jenkins pulled a gun out of his sweatshirt pocket and fired 4 shots at Officer Wittstruck, striking him in the face and the top of his head. Officer Wittstruck fell to the ground and Jenkins ran out of the office. 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 S30I.
Officer Joseph Kunza #2304 arrived and together with JC Penney's employees provided aid to Officer Wittstruck. Several agencies including the Nebraska State Patrol assisted with a perimeter around Westroads and a search for the suspect. Omaha Fire Department medics rendered aid and transported Officer Wittstruck to the Nebraska Medical Center in critical condition. Officer Wittstruck's firearm had not been removed from its holster and was not fired.
At 5:22pm a Nebraska State Patrol Trooper discovered the suspect vehicle being driven near the Pump and Pantry gas station at the Gretna 432 exit, a traffic stop was initiated and the vehicle fled at a high rate of speed. The suspect vehicle reached speeds in excess of 140mph and continued to drive westbound on I-80 in a reckless manner. Troopers successfully deployed stop sticks near the Waverly interchange on I-80 and the suspect vehicle exited onto Highway 6 where it became stuck on railroad tracks. Troopers took Jenkins into custody and located a Taurus .380 firearm in his possession.
Jenkins has a previous history of resisting arrests and escape. Jenkins was transported to OPD headquarters where he complained of a minor leg injury. OFD medics were summoned and tended to Jenkins' injury, he was not transported. Detectives interviewed Jenkins & the investigation is ongoing; he will be charged with attempted murder & use of weapon to commit a felony.
Officer Wittstruck sustained gunshot injuries to the top of his head and his face, he is stable and recovering. Officer Wittstruck has been with the Omaha Police Department since September of 2016.
"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. " - Chief Todd Schmaderer
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