Omaha Police Department Officer Jeffrey Wittstruck was sent to the JCPenney store in Westroads Mall, where security had reported an alleged clothing thief, the police department said in a press release.
The 21-year-old suspect was arrested by the security of the store after he was seen putting T-shirts in his backpack and leaving without paying for them.
Wittstruck spoke to the suspect who was not “close or cooperative,” police said. The officer then instructed him to remove his backpack, but the suspected suspect “stood up and placed his right hand in his sweatshirt pocket,” according to the statement.
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 fired four shots” at Wittstruck, who was hit in the face and top of his head, according to the statement.
The suspect fled the scene and was later arrested by a Nebraska state patrol soldier after a high-speed chase, police said. He faces charges such as attempted murder and the use of a weapon to commit a crime.
Wittstruck was transported 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,” Police Chief Todd Schmaderer said in the statement.