1 dead after Westroads Mall shooting; Omaha Police still looking for suspects

1 dead after Westroads Mall shooting; Omaha Police still looking for suspects
Omaha Police responded to a shooting at Westroads Mall around noon Saturday, April 17, 2021. (Source: Leigh Waldman / WOWT via Gray News)

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - The man critically injured in the Westroads Mall shooting around noon Saturday died, Omaha Police said in an update that also asked for help identifying “persons of interest” in the case.

Police identified the victim Saturday night as 21-year-old Traquez Swift.

In their report on the shooting, OPD said that shots were fired on the first floor of the mall near the JCPenney store, according to initial reports.

“The investigation indicates this was an isolated incident and not a random attack,” the OPD release states. “The suspects fled the scene immediately after the shooting.”

Earlier this afternoon, Neil Bonacci with OPD’s information office said Omaha Police and other agencies were looking for two suspects.

Police said that witnesses or anyone with information about this shooting, including anything they might see on social media, should call Omaha Crime Stoppers at 402-444-STOP.

Officers responding to the shooting found a male victim at the scene with serious injuries, Bonacci said. The victim was transported “as a trauma candidate” to CHI Bergan Mercy hospital, and later died from his injuries, police said.

Bonacci said that the second victim, a 22-year-old female, was driven in a personal vehicle to CHI Immanuel Hospital, and the afternoon OPD report stated she had walked into the hospital with a gunshot wound and said she had been shot at Westroads. She had a minor leg injury that was not considered life-threatening, police said.

“This wasn’t an active shooter situation; however, our department, just taking precautions, treated it as so,” Neil Bonacci with OPD’s information office said just after 2 p.m.

Much of the mall parking lot was cleared out by 1:35 p.m., with many emergency vehicles clearing out by 2:22 p.m., when the OPD forensics team arrived at the scene.

Some witnesses were taken downtown for questioning, Bonacci said. In the parking lot, people gathered trying to process what they saw and heard.

The victims were shot outside of JCPenney in “one of the longer hallways” between stores, Bonacci said.

OPD had no preliminary descriptions of the suspects at the time of Bonacci’s update, but mall video footage showed suspects fleeing from the mall, Bonacci said

Police are working to identify the suspects. Any descriptions of the suspects or a vehicle will be distributed to the public as police are able, Bonacci said.

It is unclear yet what motivated the shooting, police said.

Officers methodically searched the mall, Bonacci said, and people were locked in at different stores during the incident.

“It appeared that mall security, employees, and management were doing what they were told to do in these situations: lock their doors and ensure the safety of not just themselves but also the customers as well,” he said.

Bonacci said detectives are still processing the scene, so the mall remains an active crime scene and would be shut down for the rest of the day.

Investigators are looking through security footage and other video to narrow down information about any possible suspects, he said.

According to Bonacci, Westroads management said the mall would be “more than likely” be open normal business hours on Sunday.

Police were staged in the same area of the mall as just a little more than a month ago when a shooting at the mall March 12 left OPD Officer Jeffrey Wittstruck injured. Four shots were fired at him, hitting his face and the top of his head.

Bonacci said Saturday that the two incidents were not related.

“Omaha’s safe. We take a lot of preventative measures as a department,” he said. “This is uncommon, and unfortunately it’s just a coincidence that two incidents have happened so closely together.

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