SOUTH SIOUX CITY — Officer Brian Van Berkum, who sustained an injury in an exchange of gunfire in the wee hours Saturday morning and was hospitalized, is a "gregarious," friendly and well-liked policeman of nearly 19 years' experience, South Sioux City Police Chief Ed Mahon said.
Van Berkum sustained a gunshot wound in a shooting that took place at 2:08 a.m. outside Los Amigos, a bar and liquor store at 1313 Dakota Ave.
County Attorney Kim Watson said in a news release Monday that Luis Quinones Rosa, 26, died at a hospital early Saturday morning after exchanging gunshots with Van Berkum, the Associated Press reported.
Watson said Van Berkum confronted Rosa because he matched the description of a man who'd been seen with a gun in a South Sioux City bar. Watson says Rosa shot first at Van Berkum, striking him in a leg and in the abdomen.
Watson said Van Berkum then returned the fire, hitting one of Rosa's legs. Rosa was found unresponsive later in a nearby vehicle and taken to the hospital, where he died.
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Van Berkum is recovering from surgery. The exact nature of his injury was not known.
Mahon, who said he was not able to comment on the shooting itself, said Van Berkum, a native of Sioux City, is well liked professionally.
"He's been a school liaison officer, and all the kids just love him, his nickname with all those kids was 'Shorty,'" Mahon said. Though Mahon described Van Berkum as a man of average height, his personality is large in terms of "friendship and friendliness and social abilities … he's just an all-around great guy."
"All the kids loved him, he did an awesome job for us in that capacity," Mahon said.
Van Berkum is a girls basketball and soccer coach in South Sioux City, Mahon said, as well as an assistant high school swim coach. Mahon said he would expect Van Berkum to return to the force at some point.
An investigation into the shooting is being conducted by the Nebraska State Patrol.