Crime

Pleasant Valley police officer shot in traffic stop in serious condition

Omar D. Maria, 31, will be tried in Clay County on felony charges of assault on a law enforcement officer in the first degree and armed criminal action.
Omar D. Maria, 31, will be tried in Clay County on felony charges of assault on a law enforcement officer in the first degree and armed criminal action.

A 37-year-old Pleasant Valley police officer who was shot in the face in a traffic stop Saturday night on Interstate 35 remained in serious but stable condition at a hospital, authorities said Monday.

Jacob Baldwin has been speaking with family members, fellow officers and others.

The father of a 7-year-old daughter, Baldwin has been with the Pleasant Valley police a little more than two years, said Mayor David Slater. Baldwin previously served in the military in Iraq.

“He has been a terrific young officer,” Slater said. “He was just doing his job, and the main job of a police officer is get home to his family after his shift.

“We have a 7-year-old girl whose dad didn’t come home to her.”

Baldwin grew up in Polo, Mo., and graduated from the Public Safety Institute at Metropolitan Community College-Blue River. He had earned an associate’s degree while in the military, said Pleasant Valley police Capt. Jared McGinley.

Authorities on Sunday arrested a suspect, Omar D. Maria, 31, of Kansas City, after a short standoff at a residence in the 1900 block of Parallel Avenue in Kansas City, Kan.

Maria is being held at the Wyandotte County Detention Center on a federal probation violation warrant issued by the U.S. Marshals Service for a weapons violation. He is being questioned regarding the shooting of Baldwin but had not been charged Monday.

The shooting unfolded about 11:30 p.m. Saturday after Baldwin pulled over a southbound green Honda Accord on Interstate 35 just north of Interstate 435 for a vehicle registration violation.

The driver jumped out of the vehicle and fired several shots from a semiautomatic handgun toward the windshield of Baldwin’s police car before Baldwin could get out, said Sgt. Collin M. Stosberg of the Missouri Highway Patrol.

Baldwin was struck in the face. He radioed for help as the gunman got back in his vehicle and sped away.

After searching overnight, authorities on Sunday received a tip where Maria allegedly was hiding. Police from Kansas City and Kansas City, Kan., joined agents from the U.S. Marshals Service and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in making the arrest, Stosberg said.

Maria has three felony Jackson County criminal convictions from 2008. Two involved the theft of vehicles, and one was for possession of marijuana. He served 120 days in prison before being released on probation, which he later violated. Those felony convictions meant he could not legally possess a firearm or ammunition.

In June 2010, Kansas City police arrested him for allegedly firing a rifle within city limits. Police had responded to a call of shots fired in the 3500 block of Thompson Avenue.

Officers entered a residence and found Maria hiding behind a television, trying to open a large black duffel bag. An officer grabbed the bag and felt an object shaped like a rifle. Inside the bag, the officer found a Colt AR-15 .223-caliber rifle.

Maria allegedly gave the officers a false name and said that he was in the United States illegally. Because he was a felon, that weapon possession sent him to federal prison. He was released a year ago.

Earlier this year, he was charged in Jackson County for driving without a valid license.

The Star’s Tony Rizzo contributed to this report. To reach Glenn E. Rice, call 816-234-4341 or send email to grice@kcstar.com.

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