Lincoln police officer "fighting for his life" following shooting

August 27, 2020 - 7:20pm

After receiving over 130 blood transfusions, a Lincoln, Nebraska police officer is "fighting for his life" after being shot by a man fleeing from his pending arrest. Lincoln Police Officer Mario Herrera remained in critical condition in a Lincoln hospital on Thursday afternoon. 

Officer Mario Herrera (Photo: Lincoln PD)

Chief Jeffrey Bliemeister (Photo: LNK-TV)


In an update for reporters, Police Chief Jeffrey Bliemeister said Herrara has had multiple surgeries and "has received more than 130 units of blood." 

"He continues to struggle for his life," he said, adding, "I am so confident, in speaking with the talented physicians, that they are doing their very best to save his life."

Chief Bliemeister relayed a message from the officer's family, saying the best way the community could help is by making blood donations to replenish depleted supplies.

New details about the shooting released at Thursday's briefing included the revelation Officer Herrera, a 23 year veteran of the force, was not wearing an armored vest commonly used during high-risk operations. 

Bliemeister said, "We can only speculate the dynamics of the response and whether or why Mario was not wearing a vest," and urged attention be focused "on the fact that he was critically injured continues to fight for his life."

The Lancaster County Sheriff's Office is handling the investigation into the incident. 

Sheriff Terry Wagner revealed officers attempting to deliver an arrest warrant to Felipe Vasquez had negotiated with him, along with a second man, for half an hour inside the home before Vasquez jumped out of a window and fled. 

Wagner said, "evidence indicates as those two were fleeing the residence Vasquez fired (three rounds from) a semi-automatic pistol at LPD officers who were stationed outside the residence, striking investigator Herrera."

The preliminary investigation says Officer Cole Jennings, an investigator with the gang unit, returned four rounds as the pair fled. 

Wagner said the officer's gunfire hit neither Vasquez nor Ross.

Police tracked Vasquez to a near-by residence where he was hiding before being arrested without further incident. 

Felipe Vasquez (Photo: Lincoln PD)

The second man, 19-year old Orion Ross, was apprehended in a school playground across the street from the scene of the shooting.

The county attorney charged both men with escape using a deadly weapon. Vasquez is also accused of possessing a stolen weapon; the semi-automatic pistol recovered at the scene. A judge set their bonds at one million dollars apiece.

The sheriff's investigation will also review how officers on the scene handled the arrest. As is a routine procedure, the department placed Officer Jennings on administrative leave, pending the outcome of that investigation.

During the televised briefing, Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird said the "frightening" events of Wednesday "are a reminder that our community is not immune to violent crime" and provided "a stark reminder of just how dangerous (law enforcement) jobs can be."

She said police officers "put their lives on the line to keep us safe, and our grateful community stands behind them."



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