On Wednesday, May 20th at 12:58 p.m., Omaha Police Officers assigned to the Omaha Metro Fugitive Task Force were conducting surveillence in the area of Martin Ave and Read Street. Sergeant Jeff Kopietz, a 24-year police veteran, and Officer Robert Laney, a 25-year police veteran were attempting to locate and arrest 26-year old Marcus D. Wheeler. Wheeler was wanted on a felony warrant for 1st Degree Assault as a result of a shooting that occurred on September 5th, 2014. (Copies of the report and the arrest warrant are contained in the media packet).
While Sergeant Kopietz and Officer Laney were watching the residence at 3057 Martin Avenue, additional officers assigned to the multi-agency Metro Fugitive Task Force began responding to their location to assist with locating Wheeler. Among the officers responding to 3057 Martin Avenue were Officers Jeff Shada, a 21-year police veteran and Kerrie Orozco, a 7-year police veteran.
Officer Laney observed a suspect, which matched the description of Wheeler, on foot near the intersection of Vane Street and Martin Avenue. Officer Laney drove to the intersection of Vane Street and Martin Avenue, where he observed Wheeler walking in a grassy area on the north side of Vane Street across from the address of 3159 Vane Street. Officer Laney radioed to Sergeant Kopietz that he had the suspect.
Officer Laney parked his unmarked vehicle equipped with emergency police lights in front of 3159 Vane Street. The red and blue emergency police lights were flashing at this time. Officer Laney got out of his vehicle and called Wheeler by his name and told him to stop. Wheeler responded by pulling a handgun and firing at least three gunshots at Officer Laney. One bullet struck the lower portion of the driver’s door of Laney’s vehicle. (Depicted in the two photos)
A second bullet struck the back window of a vehicle parked in the driveway of 3159 Vane Street. A female witness was standing near this vehicle and witnessed the confrontation between Wheeler and Officer Laney. Wheeler then fled north towards the rear of 3057 Martin Avenue. Officer Laney did not discharge his duty handgun during this confrontation. At this point, Officer Laney radioed to Sergeants Kopietz that shots were fired and that Wheeler had fled towards 3057 Martin Avenue.
Sergeant Kopietz quickly drove his unmarked vehicle into the driveway at 3057 Martin Avenue and turned on the red and blue emergency lights. Seargeant Kopietz got out of his vehicle and observed Erica L. Coppage-Williams and a small child come out of the front door of the residence. Sergeant Kopietz yelled out to Coppage-Williams to come out away from the residence to him. Sergeant Kopietz described Coppage-Williams’ appearance as aggitated and stressed as she yelled back at him.
Sergeant Kopietz then observed Wheeler appear from the back of 3057 Martin Avenue walking across the driveway from the west towards the east. There was a green 4-door sedan parked in the driveway that was between Wheeler and Sergeant Kopietz. Sergeant Kopietz then gave Wheeler loud verbal commands to stop and get on the ground. Wheeler instantly responded to the verbal commands by quickly turning towards Sergeant Kopietz while taking a crouching position, pointing a handgun and firing multiple gunshots at Sergeant Kopietz. Sergeant Kopietz immediately returned gunshots towards Wheeler.
At about this moment, Officer Orozco and Officer Shada ran up to the driveway and formed a tactical approach behind Sergeant Kopietz’s position, which was unbeknownst to Sergeant Kopietz. Wheeler continued east over a fence and into the back yard of 3055 Martin Avenue. Sergeant Kopietz, followed by Officer Orozco and Officer Shada approached the back yard along the west side of 3055 Martin Avenue.
Sergeant Kopietz observed Wheeler in the backyard. Wheeler was again crouched down in a shooting stance and fired a second volley of multiple gun shots at Sergeant Kopietz. Sergeant Kopietz also fired multiple gun shots at Wheeler. Immediately after this exchange of gunfire, Officer Orozco yelled out that she had been hit. Sergeant Kopietz turned towards her, observed her bleeding and yelled for her to get down. Sergeant Kopietz then lost sight of Wheeler as he fled towards the east.
During the exchange of gunfire, Wheeler fired at least six gunshots from a 9mm caliber Glock handgun, equipped with a high capacity drum-type magazine. Sergeant Kopietz fired 3-4 gunshots from his .45 caliber duty handgun. This exchange of gunfire was witnessed by a citizen. Officers Shada and Orozco did not discharge their .45 caliber duty handguns.
Officer Orozco suffered a lethal gun shot wound to her upper chest area, just above the front panel of the bullet proof vest she was wearing. Officer Shada pulled Officer Orozco to the front yard of 3055 Martin Avenue, where Officer Shada began to administer first aid. Two Northeast Precinct Uniform Patrol Officers arrived on scene and began CPR on Officer Orozco until the Omaha Fire Department Rescue personnel arrived on scene and took over emergency medical procedures on Officer Orozco.
Wheeler was also struck by multiple gun shots. One was a lethal gun shot wound to his chest; however, he was able to continue east bound through the backyards along Martin Avenue to the rear of 3043 Read Street. A witness observed Wheeler collapse in the yard on the southeast corner of the residence at this address. The witness also observed a handgun fall to the ground with Wheeler. Witnesses alerted officers to Wheeler’s location. Sergeant Kopietz, Officer Laney and other officers that had arrived at the scene located Wheeler lying on the ground at the rear of 3043 Read Street. Lying next to Wheeler was the 9mm Glock handgun. Two Northeast Precinct Uniform Patrol Officers began CPR on Wheeler until the Omaha Fire Department Rescue personnel arrived on scene and took over emergency medical proceudres on Wheeler.