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Omaha couple holds fundraiser for officer shot in Westroads Mall

Published: May. 3, 2021 at 3:51 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - After being shot in the line of duty in March, OPD Officer Jeffery Wittstruck is still recovering.

Inspired by his story and wanting to show support for his family, an Omaha metro couple challenges the community to rally around them.

Officer Jeffery Wittstruck was shot while responding to a shoplifting call at Westroads Mall. Currently, he is recovering at home.

”When I heard about Officer Wittstruck, I knew there was a GoFundMe for him and a meal train. But I just immediately went to thinking about his wife,” said Katie Starks.

Katie Starks is an Instagram influencer with quite the following, empathizing with what Officer Wittstruck’s wife must be feeling after talking with the spouses of first responders. She challenged her followers to spread kindness.

“It lasted a week and I just did a Venmo challenge and had so many people write in. They raised $9,500 for her,” said Katie.

This was the moment she and her husband Luther gave the check to the department but they both know the gesture was about more than just the cash value.

”This is more than just money. There’s still a community out there that loves you, supports you, and just knows that hey, every day they go out and put their lives on the line for people like us in the communities they love so much,” said Luther.

Luther and Katie also hope that in a time where there is such a divide between police and the community, this shows officers their jobs are still appreciated.

“We love you and support you, Black and brown communities still love and support you. We need good officers,” said Luther.

According to a statement by an OPD sergeant, Wittstruck and his wife are both thankful for the support. The sergeant went on to say that looking at the stack of cards and fundraising efforts from the community, he can not help but feel proud and he can’t wait for Wittstruck to be back at work.

Officers have been truly humbled by the outpouring of support for Officer Wittstruck and his family. I am certain that they feel the same way.

From conversations with Officer Wittstruck and his wife, both have said that they feel blessed by the support that has been given. The community recognizes how dangerous this job can be, and understands that recovering from such a traumatic incident can be a long stressful road, and often a lonely one without support.

Our Officers have come together and shown continual support for Officer Wittstruck and his family, and more importantly, the community came together and provided some wonderful support as well. When I look at the stacks of cards that have been delivered, and the fundraising efforts from people in the community, I’m left with a feeling of pride for our community. Our community truly does care, and that will go a long way in supporting the recovery of our injured officer. We want nothing more than a speedy recovery, so that he can return to work and continue helping the community.

I have known Officer Wittstruck for several years, and have worked on crews with him. He truly is a wonderful human being, and he loves the community that he works for.

Sgt. Jason Heft

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