Omaha, NE – Lincoln Police Department (LPD) Investigator Luis “Mario” Herrera died in the line of duty on Monday, nearly two weeks after he was shot while attempting to serve a warrant.
Members of the LPD’s Metro Area Fugitive Task Force teamed up with the department’s criminal division and gang unit on Aug. 26 to serve a warrant at a residence near Vine Street and 33rd Street after they received information that 17-year-old Felipe Vazquez was at the home, the Lincoln Journal Star reported.
Vazquez was wanted for second-degree assault for his alleged role in the March stabbing death of Edward Varejcka.
As officers converged on the home, the fugitive and 19-year-old Orion Ross allegedly smashed out a window of the residence and opened fire on police before escaping, the Lincoln Journal Star reported.
Investigator Herrera, who was not wearing a ballistic vest, was struck in the torso by a bullet that investigators said was fired by Vazquez.
The wounded investigator was rushed to Bryan West Campus hospital before being transferred to the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, the Lincoln Journal Star reported.
He remained hospitalized in critical condition and underwent multiple surgeries prior to succumbing to his injuries on Sept. 7.
Vazquez and Ross were both later apprehended and have been charged with escape using force or a deadly weapon.
Vazquez has also been charged with possession of a stolen firearm.
Additional charges are expected in the wake of Investigator Herrera’s death, the Lincoln Journal Star reported.
The Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office is handling the ongoing investigation into the veteran officer’s murder.
Investigator Herrera leaves behind his wife, Carrie, and their four children, Carlos, Olivia, Celia, and Adelina, according to a fundraising page established to help his family in the wake of their loss.
“It is with a very heavy heart that I have to pass on devastating news to all of you,” a post on the page read on Monday. “At approximately 3:30 this morning, Mario died from complications related to his shooting. Carrie and his 4 amazing children were able to be with him.”
Investigator Herrera served LPD for 23 years, the department said in a Facebook post later in the day.
“The Lincoln Police Department is devastated by the loss of one of our most outstanding police officers,” LPD said. “Mario was an exceptional investigator, a selfless teammate, and a tireless public servant. Empathetic, kind, and utterly committed to serving victims and protecting his community, Mario was an exemplary human being who just happened to be a Lincoln police officer.”
“Investigator Herrera paid the ultimate sacrifice to keep us all safe,” the post read.
Part of Investigator Herrera’s role on the day of the shooting was to serve as an interpreter to help his fellow officers communicate with Spanish-speaking suspects, the Omaha World-Herald reported.
He also served with the Nebraska State Patrol (NSP) prior to joining the LPD, NSP said in a tweet on Monday.
Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts ordered that flags be lowered to half-staff in honor of Investigator Herrera, according to the Lincoln Journal Star.
“Investigator Herrera’s service and sacrifice will never be forgotten,” Ricketts said in a press release. “I also want to thank people across the state who stepped up to support the Herrera family in the midst of this terrible tragedy. From holding prayer vigils to donating blood, the community’s response was powerful and inspiring.”
“Now more than ever, it is critical for all of us to come together and support the men and women who put on the uniform and risk their lives every day to help keep our communities safe,” the governor wrote.
It was an honor for our troopers to lead the way for today's escort of @Lincoln_Police Inv. Herrera from Omaha to Lincoln.
— Nebraska State Patrol (@NEStatePatrol) September 7, 2020
Investigator Mario Herrera has succumbed to his injuries. Despite skilled & determined medical care, as well as the thoughts, prayers, & support of his family, friends & community, his valiant fight ended as he passed away in the early morning hours of September 7th, 2020. #LNK pic.twitter.com/Gd3xRicoLX
— Lincoln Police (@Lincoln_Police) September 7, 2020
Blessed Are The Peacemakers
Investigator Luis "Mario" Herrera
Lincoln Police Department, Nebraska
— National Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) (@GLFOP) September 8, 2020
Amazing show of support for Officer Mario Herrera as his body is taken from Omaha to Lincoln. Every single overpass on I-80 was like this as you traveled westbound. pic.twitter.com/jwxsAwOVjG
— Sean Callahan (@Sean_Callahan) September 7, 2020
RT VolusiaSheriff "RT @SheriffChitwood: Yesterday, @Lincoln_Police Inv. Luis "Mario" Herrera succumbed to a gunshot wound sustained Aug. 26, when a juvenile homicide suspect opened fire, striking him in the chest. Herrera served 23 years and is survi… pic.twitter.com/sel4uMcRFv"
— Volusia/FlaglerCrime (@DBNJcrime) September 8, 2020
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Lincoln Police Department Investigator Luis “Mario” Herrera, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Investigator Luis “Mario” Herrera, your life mattered.