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Ark. ambulance dispatcher sent ‘SOS’ text to supervisors before fatal shooting

Metropolitan Emergency Medical Services Dispatcher Cassandra Peña-Romero was found shot in the neck beside her car


Metropolitan EMS Arkansas/Facebook

By Mike Stunson
The Charlotte Observer

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — A 27-year-old ambulance dispatcher died days after she was shot leaving work, Arkansas police say.

Cassandra Peña-Romero reportedly was shot by her husband, Omar Peña-Romero, as she left her job at Metropolitan Emergency Medical Services in Little Rock on Saturday, Aug. 19, multiple media outlets reported, citing police.

Her supervisors received an “SOS” text from her shortly before she was discovered shot in the neck beside her car in the parking lot, according to a police report obtained by KARK and the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Police said she was taken to a hospital, where she was initially listed in critical condition. Her employer said Wednesday she died from her injuries.

Little Rock authorities did not immediately respond to a McClatchy News request for the police report.

Eight days before the shooting, Cassandra Peña-Romero filed for divorce, KARK and the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported. The couple was married for nearly four years and had a child together, according to KARK.

Court records show the divorce filing came after Omar Peña-Romero was arrested and charged with assaulting her, THV11 reported.

He had been ordered to stay away from his wife’s home and work, THV11 reported.

According to her LinkedIn, Cassandra Peña-Romero worked as an emergency medical dispatcher since 2021.

She was called a “true community hero” by Greg Thompson, the executive director of MEMS.

“We appreciate the care she received at (University of Arkansas for Medical Services) and the valiant efforts of our law enforcement partners to quickly apprehend the suspect of this heinous act,” Thompson said in a statement. “We mourn the loss of Cassandra and our thoughts and prayers are with her family, friends, and colleagues. As an organ donor, Cassandra continues her life-saving legacy.”

Police said Omar Peña-Romero, 23, was arrested in Texarkana three hours after the shooting, according to MEMS. He was a former employee at MEMS before he was fired earlier this month, the agency said.

The husband was charged with first-degree domestic battery and violating a no-contact order, but charges were upgraded to capital murder, according to police and court records.

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EARLIER: Ark. dispatcher dies after being shot in ambulance service parking lot over weekend