(OMAHA, Neb.) — An investigation is underway after a driver “recklessly” went through a barricaded area during a Halloween event in Omaha, Nebraska, and was shot by an officer, police said.
The incident occurred shortly after 7 p.m. Monday in a residential area of Omaha where the street had been closed off to cars for trick-or-treating.
Officers who were handing out candy at the event were alerted that someone was “driving recklessly” down the boulevard, the Omaha Police Department said in a press release. The driver was traveling in the wrong direction with no headlights on, police said.
One of the officers ran in front of the car and “gave multiple loud verbal commands to the driver and held out his hand gesturing for the driver to stop the vehicle,” police said.
When the driver continued to move toward the officer, the officer fired seven times, striking him, before the car stopped, police said. The driver was hit three times — once in the jaw and once in each shoulder, according to Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer.
Video obtained by ABC Omaha affiliate KETV shows a car slowing down before accelerating down the street. In another video obtained by KETV, several shots can be heard as a crowd gathered on lawns started to run.
There are no reported injuries of anyone being struck by the car, police said.
Schmaderer said the motive is currently unknown, but police don’t currently believe the driver intended a “mass casualty” incident “because there was an opportunity to that.”
“People were diving out of the way and they were getting out of the way, but it didn’t look like they were being targeted,” Schmaderer told reporters during a press briefing Tuesday afternoon.
Police are investigating whether the driver was impaired, he said.
“It did appear that he was under the influence of something from the body-worn camera, but we don’t have toxicology reports back,” Schmaderer said.
Police identified the driver as 31-year-old Dontavius Levering. He received medical attention at the scene and was transported to a local hospital in serious condition, police said. He is in stable condition and is expected to survive his injuries, police said Tuesday.
There was no one else in the car, police said.
Police urged people to avoid the area of Minne Lusa Boulevard and Newport Avenue Monday night amid the investigation.
“It’s extremely scary when that type of event happens obviously, with hundreds and hundreds of people, many children, and not expecting cars to be driving through around barricades,” Omaha police Lt. Neal Bonacci told reporters from the scene Monday night.
The officer who fired his weapon has been placed on paid administrative leave amid the investigation. The chief identified him as Bryson Blandford, a four-year veteran of the Omaha Police Department.
“From everything I’ve seen from the body-worn camera footage, this was in accordance with policy,” Schmaderer said. “If that changes, I’ll certainly update the public on that.”
Schmaderer said he believes Blandford’s actions “saved lives” on the crowded street.
Police have recovered at least six of the seven rounds fired, and have not heard of any homes being struck in the incident, the chief said.
Schmaderer said the department will present the matter to the county attorney, who will make any charging decisions.
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