Tuesday's Shooting Brings Back Memories For Councilman, Former Officer Gernandt

Paul Gutierrez

OMAHA (KPTM) - The shooting Tuesday night at the corner of 43rd and Dodge Streets that left two people dead, including the robbery suspect, is a painful reminder that violence can flare up anytime and anywhere. For one former police officer turned councilman, he knows exactly what that feels like.

"I can tell you it's not an easy thing to go through and there's a lot of emotion," said Garry Gernandt, who served 31 years with the Omaha Police Department before retiring in 2000.

In 1986, Gernandt found himself in a similar difficult situation. He was attacked with a knife while serving in the line of duty forcing him to fight back, which is something he remembers like it was yesterday.

"I still have the scar on my arm," said Gernandt. "If I would have gotten stabbed about an eighth of an inch lower I would have lost my arm."

Flash forward to Tuesday night when officers went to the scene of a robbery at an Omaha Wendy's restaurant. Police say 32-year-old Cortez Washington used an airsoft pistol to open fire, so the chief says authorities had no choice but to fire back; a situation that in this case escalated quickly just as Gernandt's did 28 years ago.

"It's 90 percent boredom and 10 percent action, but you just never know when that's going to happen," said Gernandt.

With bullet holes and crime scene tape still scattered near the busy intersection, it reminds the councilman about an officer's next challenge, which is healing and coping.

"You have to rely on your training, you have to rely on your faith and you have to rely on your family."

It's the kind of support anyone would need after such a life-changing event.