The Omaha police officer shot and killed in the line of duty Wednesday was a day away from the release of her daughter Olivia Ruth—born prematurely in February—from the hospital.
On Thursday, 3-month-old Olivia Ruth Orozco is scheduled to be released from the Nebraska Medical Center, where she has been in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit since her premature birth.
“She’s pretty close to 6 pounds!” her mother, 29-year-old Kerrie Orozco, had exulted on Facebook back on April 19.
The mother had delayed her maternity leave from the Omaha Police Department until she could bring the baby home and they could spend that precious time together.
But the mother will not be there to carry the baby home from the hospital at the long-awaited moment.
Officer Kerrie Orozco was shot to death Wednesday as she and other members of the Metro Area Fugitive Task Force served an arrest warrant on a 26-year-old known gang member named Marcus Wheeler.
Wheeler was wanted in connection with the shooting of a man named Antonio Martin in September. Martin had just dropped off his 5-year-old daughter at home. He was rushed to Nebraska Medical Center in critical condition but survived. He reportedly told police that Wheeler had threatened him on Facebook before suddenly appearing in person and shooting him.
The police were still looking for Wheeler in February, when Orozco gave birth to Olivia Ruth. The baby remained in the hospital when the day came for the mother to return to duty.
Olivia Ruth’s release was just a day away as her mother went with the task force to conduct surveillance on the home of a young woman with whom Wheeler himself had a child six years ago.
At 12:58 p.m., the cops saw Wheeler approach on foot. Wheeler saw them and produced a semi-automatic handgun fitted with a high-capacity drum magazine. He fired several rounds and sought to get away.
Orozco was among the officers who moved straight into the most mortal danger to capture him. She fell wounded in the ensuing exchange of gunfire.
Wheeler managed to flee but was found nearby, also wounded. The gun was recovered.
Orozco and Wheeler were both deemed “Code 99,” or in extremely critical condition, as they were rushed to Creighton University Medical Center. Both proved to be beyond saving. Word of Orozco’s death rocked the whole city.
“Officer Orozco gave her life for all of us,” Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert said in a statement. “She will be remembered and missed as a loving wife, mother, officer.”
The stunned and grieving department reported that the former Kerrie Holtz had signed on in 2008, having come to Oklahoma from Iowa. She had proven herself to be as tough as she was tender when she fought in the 2009 “Guns and Hoses” cops-versus-firefighters charity boxing match.
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SOURCE: The Daily Beast, Michael Daly