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Police officers shoot, kill gunman at a Target in west Omaha. Here's what we know

KETV Omaha 2/3/2023 Jake Anderson
omaha police kill gunman inside target © KETV omaha police kill gunman inside target

Omaha police officers shot and killed a suspected active shooter at a Target on Tuesday.

Authorities said the suspect had fired multiple shots inside the store — he had an AR-15-style rifle and 13 loaded rifle magazines in his possession.

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No civilians were hurt during the incident.

Here's everything we've learned so far about what happened.

What happened?

Omaha police said officers responded to a report of an active shooter inside the Target, located near 178th Street and West Center Road, around 11:59 a.m.

Investigators said the man had fired multiple shots inside the store — he had an AR-15-style rifle and 13 loaded rifle magazines in his possession.

Authorities said that uniformed Omaha police officers and a state trooper arrived at the Target and encountered the suspect armed with a rifle upon entering.

Officers said numerous loud verbal commands were directed at the suspect, ordering him to drop the rifle.

An Omaha police officer then fired their service handgun, striking and killing the suspect, law enforcement said. Fire personnel later declared him dead.

Omaha police said officers conducted three searches of the store after encountering the gunman, finding bullet casings but no victims, before declaring the scene safe.

Douglas County 911 said they received at least 29 calls regarding the incident.

A review of police scanner traffic indicates the suspected shooter was dead six minutes after the first call for help.

Omaha police said there were 250 people, including employees and customers, inside the store at the time of the incident.

Multiple county, state and federal agencies assisted in the response to the incident, according to Omaha police.

Who was the suspect?

Omaha police identified Joseph Jones, 32, as the gunman who was shot and killed by officers during an active shooter incident Tuesday at a Target store.

Jones purchased the rifle four days before the incident at a Cabela's, according to Omaha police.

Omaha police said officer Brian Vanderheiden, a 20-year veteran, shot Jones.

The motive is not known at this time.

What the witnesses saw

When police say an active shooter fired an AR-15-style rifle, customers and employees said they had two choices: to run or hide.

In a cellphone video Elianne Robinson recorded, a gunshot can be heard while she hides in the fitting room. Robinson, a Target employee, can be seen telling loved ones she loves them while she hoped for the best.

"There was a stool in the fitting room, and part of our training was 'use any merchandise or any shelving units that you can' to defend yourself if you have to. So when that stool was in there, I was like, 'If I have to use it, I will,'" she said.

Jasmine Gascar said she was on her lunch break shopping at Target at the time. She decided to go try on some clothes when she started hearing gunshots.

"I really thought I was going to die, I really thought I was going to die," Gascar said. "It just felt like they were coming closer and closer."

While some employees hid, others, like Curt Cyr, fled.

"The only thing I saw was employees sprinting to the back of the store, saying, 'active shooter,'" Cyr said. "You never think it's going to happen to you. But when it does, it's just it's fight or flight, you know, That's what it is. It's just adrenaline totally hitting you to the fullest."

Eventually, Robinson said, an officer came to her while she hid.

"We identified ourselves, we're three women in the fitting room, so we open the door (the officer is) like, 'Hands up,' so we had our hands, showing we didn't have anything," she said.


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