Veteran Commits Suicide After Fresh Indictment In A Case Declared As Justified Self-Defense

An Omaha bar owner committed suicide after fresh charges were leveled against him in the fatal shooting of a Black Lives Matter protester in Old Market. Jake Gardner was facing felonious use of a deadly weapon, attempted first-degree assault, and making of terroristic threats charges after his case was reopened.


"At about 12:20 p.m., Hillsboro Police Department officers responded to the 300 block of Southeast Ninth Avenue after a body was found outside a medical clinic. They discovered 38-year-old Jacob Gardner of Omaha, Nebraska, dead," the police statement read.

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Gardner shot James Scurlock, 22, after a scuffle outside his bar during the nationwide George Floyd protests on May 30. Protesters shattered his bar windows and started climbing into the building. Gardner pulled a fire alarm, called the police, and went out front before the confrontation with Scurlock ensued. Police said Scurlock was involved in looting and vandalism in a separate incident.


Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine initially concluded that Gardner acted justifiably in self-defense and did not press any charges. However, a grand jury under a special prosecutor, Frederick Franklin, decided to charge the Hive Bar owner a few days ago.


Gardner was a multi-Iraqi tour veteran who suffered two traumatic brain injuries in combat. His attorney Stu Dornan said his client felt like he was in a warzone in the night of the fatal shooting. Dornan insisted that his client had acted justifiably in self-defense as the initial prosecution had concluded.


"The grand jury indictment was a shock to him," he said. "He was really shook up."


Attorney Tom Monaghan blamed the social media for convicting Gardner before the grand jury indicted him. Gardner was to return to Omaha accompanied by a fellow veteran but was unreachable because of the ongoing wildfires. Monaghan said that Gardner received death threats and was worried about being shot on the way to Omaha. Dornan said Gardner did not stand a chance for a fair trial.


"I'm angry he didn't have the opportunity for a fair trial, for a fair hearing," Dornan said.

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