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New details released after police shoot man suspected of stabbings at Omaha shelter

(Courtesy: OPD)

The Omaha Police Department has released new details after police fatally shot a man suspected of stabbing three women at the Siena/Francis House Wednesday afternoon.

That man was identified as Stephen Caldwell, 54.

The following information is from the Omaha Police Department:

At 4:31 p.m. Wednesday, Uniform Patrol Officers received a radio call to the shelter for a man who had cut two people and ran into the building. Soon afterward, the call was upgraded when the caller told the 911 operator that Caldwell was holding a box cutter to a female’s throat.

The first officers arrived on scene at 4:34 p.m. and confirmed that Caldwell was inside an office building of the Siena/Francis House, with a female employee that he was holding hostage. A squad was placed on standby. The officers attempted to negotiate with Caldwell through a locked door but Caldwell initially refused to open the door. The officers called for a Hostage Negotiator at 4:37 p.m. They then called for a Canine Handler at 4:39 p.m., who arrived on the scene seconds later.

Body Worn Camera footage worn by the Uniform Sergeant who was on the scene shows the officers talking to Caldwell through the door, attempting to convince Caldwell to release the female employee. The footage depicts the office door open from the inside and officers entering the room with their guns drawn, while telling Caldwell to "put it down". Shots are fired at 4:45 p.m.

The female hostage was immediately removed from the office and taken to the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) where she was treated for non-life threatening injuries she received from Caldwell holding a knife to her. The victim was interviewed and told detectives that Caldwell had originally come into her office at approximately 11:30 a.m. that day, and told her he had a problem with one of the female employees over property. The victim said Caldwell returned to her office at approximately 4:30 p.m. that same day, and said he had “stabbed” two other female employees of the Francis House, with one of them being the female he had previously mentioned having a problem with. The victim stated Caldwell appeared “paranoid” and she could see he had a bloody knife in his hand. She said Caldwell closed and locked the door behind him and barricaded it with several chairs. Caldwell handcuffed the victim to her office desk. The victim said within moments, the police were outside of her door trying to talk Caldwell into opening the door. The police asked her through the door if she was ‘in danger’, Caldwell told her to reply “yes”, to which she did. After several minutes, Caldwell opened the door and ran back to the desk where he retrieved the knife and placed it to the victim’s neck, while placing the victim between himself and the police. The victim stated the police entered the room with their guns drawn and ordered Caldwell multiple times to “put it down” and to “drop the knife” and then shots were fired.

Two other female employees were also taken to the Nebraska Medical Center where they are currently recovering from injuries, believed to be caused by Caldwell. The injuries are non-life threatening.

In accordance with an agreement with the Nebraska State Patrol, their investigators are assisting the Omaha Police Officer-Involved Investigations Team with this incident. Several witnesses that were at the Siena/Francis House have been interviewed. One witness said she was with Caldwell earlier in the day when he told her he was upset over a property dispute with Siena/Francis House staff. The witness said Caldwell told her he had stolen a knife from a nearby Family Dollar Store, and displayed to her what she described as a ‘large kitchen knife’. The witness also said Caldwell told her “he wasn’t going to stop until the cops shot him.”

At the time of the incident, additional witnesses said they saw Caldwell holding what they described as a ‘butcher knife’ chasing a female employee outside of the shelter's service center. A witness confronted Caldwell, and Caldwell threatened to kill the witness. Caldwell then ran into the office building of the Siena/Francis House. A large kitchen style knife and a box cutter were recovered from the scene.

Statements from witnesses and footage from several Body Worn Cameras show that multiple officers discharged their weapons. Four officers have been placed on Administrative Leave, per departmental policy. Forensic firearms examinations will be completed as part of this investigation. The investigation is ongoing, to include interviews with the involved officers.

Per state law, a Grand Jury will be convened to investigate this in-custody death incident. Any additional information about this incident will be released by the Omaha Police Department Press Information Office.

"Up to this point in the investigation, which is still ongoing, it is clear the officers were put in a situation where they were forced to use deadly force to save a life," OPD Chief Todd Schmaderer said. "The Officers responded heroically and in a manner consistent with their training."

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