Omaha cop gunned down hours before maternity leave

Police officers stand behind crime scene tape. (Photo by Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty)
Police officers stand behind crime scene tape.

Omaha cop Kerrie Orozco had put off starting maternity leave until her premature baby girl could come home from the hospital. Just hours before bringing her daughter home and taking the long-awaited leave, Orozco was gunned down on the job by a suspect.

This photo provided by the Omaha Police Department shows officer Kerrie Orozco.

"A life taken too soon," Omaha Police Department said on their Facebook page, adding that the seven-year veteran of the force was "not only a top notch police officer but she gave back to the community in so many ways."

The 29-year-old Orozco delivered Olivia Ruth early in February. The baby girl stayed in the hospital for three months and was due to come home on Thursday — when Orozco was "due to take time off to look after her," an emotional Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer told reporters.

But Orozco, who had served on the city's gang unit since 2012, went to serve a felony arrest warrant Wednesday on 26-year-old Marcus Wheeler. Gunfire erupted and both Orozco and Wheeler — a "convicted felon and a known gang member" wanted in relation to a previous shooting in Omaha — were hit, Schmaderer said.

Paramedics performed CPR on both the officer and the suspect as they were rushed to the Creighton University Medical Center shortly after 1 p.m. Wednesday.

Dr. Michael Wagner, a trauma critical care surgeon at the hospital, said his team provided "aggressive care" to both Orozco and Wheeler, but neither could be saved.

"Today's tragic news is devastating to the law enforcement community and all Nebraskans," Omaha's governor Pete Ricketts, said on Twitter. "We must all ensure that Officer Orozco's sacrifice will never be forgotten."

Orozco is survived by her husband Hector Orozco, two stepchildren, Natalie and Santiago, and baby Olivia, the Omaha police department said.

"Her loss will not only impact the police officers but will also be a huge loss for the citizens of Omaha," the department added on its Facebook page.

A semi-automatic handgun was also found on Wheeler, according to Omaha police.

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