Police chief home with family after bullet-proof vest saves his life

WARSAW, Mo. - The community of Warsaw, Missouri, is rallying behind its police chief after he was shot in the chest Friday.

“I’ve got a pretty good bruise and a little bit of a wound, but it’s OK,” Jason Wenberg told WDAF.

The chief is back home with his family after being shot by a 16-year-old suspect Friday morning.

According to the Benton County Sheriff's Department, the 16-year-old led officers on a high-speed pursuit Thursday night while driving a stolen car. At one point the suspect fired at a patrol vehicle, but no one was injured at that time.

The sheriff's department said the suspect then drove at a high rate of speed traveling south in the northbound lane. He eventually abandoned his vehicle at the off-ramp of the Dam Access Road and ran into the woods.

Henry County Sheriff's Office deployed a K-9 team to track the teen for several hours.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol says at approximately 8:15 a.m. Friday someone notified a Warsaw officer of a suspicious subject near Main Street and Seminary Street.

When they tried to contact the suspect, an altercation happened. The suspect showed a handgun and fired at Wenberg. The shot hit the police chief in his vest, which stopped the bullet. He was able to return fire and hit the suspect.

Wenberg and his family said the incident went from one of the scariest moments of their lives to the most relieving.

Wenberg is now home safe with his wife and five daughters. He said the outpouring of support they’ve received has been truly humbling.

“It’s still sinking in,” Wenberg said.

Wenberg has been chief of Warsaw police officially since February.

“I was in the hospital for a few hours getting checked out, got bandaged,” Wenberg said.

He left hospital around 11 a.m. Friday.

“It’s wonderful to be home with the kids,” Wenberg said, “to be here with the family.”

His wife, Kelly, said she was at her daughters’ school for an assembly when she got the call.

“Then the school went on lockdown. I texted him to see what was going on but didn’t get a text back,” Kelly said. “It was the scariest moment of my life.”

After a close call, Wenberg said he’s just thankful their family is back together again.

“I’ve had several who wanted to check on how I’m feeling and how I’m doing, but we’re doing good. We’re still here,” Wenberg said.

Among those checking in was local t-shirt company Squishy Faces, which typically donates to various pet rescues. The Warsaw company has created a t-shirt to raise money for Wenberg and his family.

“We have a special shirt that we posted this morning for the officers. So Jason being part of the community. Warsaw is very small, only about 2700 people, so everybody really does know everybody, and it’s something we felt the need to do,” said Tracey Dockery, the owner of Squishy Faces.

Dockery said she felt the need to give back to show support for the thin blue line.

“It’s kind of like the Friday night light thing. You can see everybody’s got their Warsaw high school t-shirt on. They’re gonna really rally around this officer,” Dockery said.

“We just want to thank the entire community for all the support they’ve offered,” Wenberg said.

“They’re amazing. I love this small town and the small town love that we get, and I’m so thankful for everyone in this community,” Kelly added.

Kelly said Friday was eye-opening, and she’s just thankful her husband is alive.

“I’m glad that he’s OK. I tell everyone that I had the scariest moment of my life, and the most relieved feeling of my life today,” Kelly said. “I have thought a lot about what could have happened, and I’m so thankful that he’s home with us.”

“I’m very thankful to still be here,” Wenberg adds.

If you would like to order one of the t-shirts, 100 percent of the proceeds will go to Wenberg’s family. You can order online here.