LINCOLN, Neb. — A veteran Lincoln police officer suffered life-threatening injuries when he was shot Wednesday morning while helping serve a warrant in connection with a homicide case, Lincoln’s police chief said.
The officer, whose name has not been released, underwent surgery Wednesday afternoon at Bryan Medical Center’s west campus in Lincoln, said Police Chief Jeff Bliemeister. The officer has been with the department for 23 years. As of Wednesday afternoon, he remained in critical condition, Omaha World-Herald reported.
The shooting occurred as the Metro Area Fugitive Task Force, the Lincoln Police Department’s gang unit and police investigators were trying to serve a search warrant on 17-year-old Felipe Vazquez, said Bliemeister.
Vazquez was wanted on suspicion of second-degree assault in connection with the March killing of Edward Varejcka. Officers had been searching for Vazquez since Friday and had information that he was at the residence, Bliemeister said Wednesday afternoon at a press conference.
As officers attempted contact at the home, Vazquez and another man came crashing out of a window, firing a weapon, according to the chief. As a result, the Lincoln police officer was critically wounded. Another officer returned fire, but neither suspect was hit.
It’s not clear who fired the shot that struck the officer or whether the officer was wearing a soft body armor.
Vazquez and the other man, Orion J. Ross, 19, then fled.
Ross was quickly apprehended while officers trailed Vazquez as he ran through yards and took shelter inside a house. After an undisclosed period of time, he surrendered without further gunfire.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the officer, his family and friends as he fights for his life,” Bliemeister said.
Lincoln Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird said the shooting is a reminder of the dangers of police work.
“Today’s shooting of a Lincoln police officer is a reminder that our law enforcement professionals put their lives on the line every day to keep our city safe,” she said. “On behalf of the entire community, we extend our best wishes to the officer for a quick and full recovery from his injuries.”