A 29-year-old police officer who had put off maternity leave after giving birth prematurely to a daughter in February was being mourned Thursday, a day after she was gunned down in a shootout with a fugitive.
Kerrie Orozco, the first female officer from Omaha’s police department to die in the line of duty, had only recently given birth to a daughter, and also was stepmother to two children ages 6 and 7, according to authorities. She was pronounced dead at Creighton University Medical Center shortly after the 1 p.m. shooting, Police Chief Todd Schmaderer said at a hospital news conference. Schmaderer said the suspect, 26-year-old Marcus Wheeler, also died at the hospital.
“Officer Kerrie Orozco gave her life for all of us in her service to the Omaha Police Department,” said Omaha Mayor Jean Stohert. “She will be remembered and missed as a loving wife, mother, daughter and dedicated officer.”
Orozco was part of a fugitive task force looking for Wheeler to serve a felony arrest warrant for an earlier Omaha shooting. As they closed in on the suspect Wednesday afternoon, Wheeler opened fire, prompting police to return gunfire, Schmaderer said.
Orozco, a seven-year veteran of the department who worked in the gang unit, had delivered a premature baby in February, who is due to go home from an Omaha hospital Thursday. She had postponed her maternity leave until the baby was released.
“[The baby] is set to be released from the hospital tomorrow,” Schmaderer said, his voice breaking.
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