Jake Gardner, a 38-year-old veteran and Nebraska business owner, committed suicide over the weekend just days after he was indicted by a grand jury in the fatal shooting of a black rioter.
In a statement released Monday morning, Stu Dornan, the attorney representing Gardner, confirmed his client’s death by suicide. According to a report from the Hillsboro Police Department, he was found dead inside a medical clinic outside Portland, Oregon, Sunday afternoon.
Gardner made headlines on May 30, when he was confronted and attacked by a mob of Black Lives Matter rioters outside his Hive bar in downtown Omaha, Nebraska. When he was knocked down, Gardner pulled out his handgun and fired two warning shots, according to prosecutors. When he stood up, he was attacked by 22-year-old James Scurlock, who jumped on Gardner’s back and began choking him, Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine said.
Scurlock had also broken several windows in Gardner’s bar as well as at other surrounding businesses.
Initially, Kleine determined Gardner’s actions — which resulted in Scurlock’s death — were in self-defense. However, after news of Kleine’s decision was released, Black Lives Matter activists and rioters descended on the district attorney’s home and demanded Gardner face criminal charges for shooting Scurlock. In July, one angry demonstrator, Annie Schenzel, told KMTV-TV she and her BLM cohorts “believe he’s not doing his job, so we’re trying to hold him accountable to do his job by charging Jake.”
Kleine ultimately kowtowed, petitioning for a grand jury investigation into Gardner, a former U.S. Marine.
Frederick Franklin, a veteran federal prosecutor who once served as president of the Midlands Bar Association of black attorneys, led the grand jury.
Last Wednesday, the grand jury indicted Gardner, who supported President Donald Trump, on multiple counts of manslaughter, use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, attempted first-degree assault, and terrorist threats. District Judge James Gleason signed off on an arrest warrant affidavit for Gardner on Friday.
According to Dornan, Gardner, who served two tours in Iraq and suffered two traumatic brain injuries, was scared to return home. He left Nebraska because “there was great risk” in staying at home.
“He told us that he felt that he was in the war zone that night outside of his bar with violence, the tear gas, and the mass confusion,” Dornan explained, later adding his client was shocked to learn he’d been indicted over “a clear case of self-defense.”
He was scheduled to return to Nebraska Sunday night.
Please keep Gardner’s friends and family in your prayers.