OMAHA, Neb. — Funeral arrangements have been set for Omaha Police Officer Kerrie Orozco, who was shot and killed in the line of duty Wednesday.
Orozco was shot just above the top of her protective vest, Police Chief Todd Schmaderer said Thursday.
Schmaderer gave details of the shooting that killed Officer Kerrie Orozco at a news conference Thursday. Orozco, 29, and another officer had responded to a call for backup from officers who came under fire from the heavily-armed suspect in Orozco’s death.
Schmaderer said Marcus Wheeler — a 26-year-old convicted felon and known gang member — fired on police who tried to arrest him on a felony warrant Wednesday afternoon. Orozco and another officer soon arrived and joined the chase for Wheeler, who turned and fired on them, too.
“Wheeler was ... crouched down in a shooting stance and fired a second volley of gunshots,” Schmaderer said. “Officer Orozco yelled out that she had been hit.”
Orozco died at a hospital, and an autopsy showed she had been shot with a 9-mm bullet. All of the officers involved were carrying .45-caliber handguns, Schmaderer said. Orozco and the officer with her did not fire their guns, he said.
Another officer, Sgt. Jeffrey Kopietz, was the only officer to return fire, and hit Wheeler twice, including a fatal shot to Wheeler's chest. Wheeler collapsed in a north Omaha yard after being shot and later died in an Omaha hospital.
Wheeler was armed with a 9-mm handgun and two ammunition magazines — including a 50-round ammunition drum, Schmaderer said.
“It's a rare weapon,” Schmaderer said. “We don't see it every day.”
Schmaderer rejected the suggestion that officers’ protective equipment is lacking.
"It was a tragic circumstance that didn't have anything to do with equipment or tactics or anything like that," he said. "It had to do with the fact that this job is extremely dangerous."
Wheeler shot at least nine rounds, Schmaderer said. Kopietz, a 24-year veteran of the department, shot three to four times, the chief said. He has been placed on paid administrative leave, per police policy for all officers involved in shootings.
Since Orozco's death, donations have poured in for her family, and people from around the country have offered diapers and other baby items for the infant she left behind. The Sarpy County Sheriff's Department is accepting those items to pass on to Orozco's family.
The baby girl was born two months premature and has been in a hospital intensive care unit since.
Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert ordered flags in the city lowered to half-staff in honor of Orozco until dusk Monday on Memorial Day.
The city also plans to shine blue lights at the Heartland of America Fountain and on the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge through Memorial Day.
Visitation for Omaha police officers and close friends of Orozco's will be held from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Monday at St. John's Catholic Church at Creighton University. Acquaintances and the public will be invited to visitation from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Monday at the church.
A vigil will follow at 7 p.m.
Orozco's funeral will be 11 a.m. Tuesday at St. John's Church, with additional seating and video of the ceremony provided at the CenturyLink Center in downtown Omaha.
Burial will follow at St. Joseph Cemetery in Council Bluffs, Iowa.