Omaha, Nebraska A white businessman accused of murdering a black man during protests in Nebraska has died of suicide days after his indictment, his lawyer said on Sunday.
Jacob Gardner, from Omaha, Nebraska, was found dead Sunday outside a medical clinic in Hillsboro, Oregon, the Hillsboro Police Department said in a news release. His lawyer, Stu Dornan, said at a press conference on Sunday night that Gardner’s death was a suicide.
“Unfortunately, there are two men who have died in a terrible tragedy,” Dornan said. “It’s a terrible tragedy for the Omaha community, it’s a terrible tragedy for James Scurlock and his family. It̵
A grand jury on Tuesday charged Gardner, 38, with the murder of James Scurlock. Black man authorities say Gardner fired on May 30 during a protest against police brutality and racial injustice outside Gardner’s bar in Omaha, Nebraska. Gardner was also charged with attempted assault, making terrorist threats and using a handgun to commit a crime.
Gardner had said he fired the gun in self-defense.
Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine initially decided not to charge Gardner, saying he was acting in self-defense. After intense criticism, a grand jury was called to investigate the case, which resulted in the accusations against Gardner.
Dornan said Gardner, who had gone to California after the shooting, was “really shaken” by the grand jury’s accusation. “The indictment of the grand jury was a shock to him, and it was a shock to us,” said Dornan.
Attorney Tom Monaghan, who also spoke at Sunday’s press conference, said that “the Omaha community had condemned Mr. Gardner on social media.”
Special prosecutor Frederick Franklin has said that the grand jury examined additional evidence that Kleine did not have, including texts from Gardner’s phone, messages on his Facebook profile and his interaction with spectators before coming into contact with Spurlock.
Franklin declined to give details of what the new evidence shows, except to say that it undermines the notion of self-defense.
An arrest warrant was approved for Gardner on Friday. He was scheduled to return to Omaha on Sunday to face charges against him, Dornan said.
CBS ‘Omaha-affiliated KMTV reports that Dornan said Gardner suffered two traumatic brain injuries and PTSD during and from tours in Iraq.
Dornan said Gardner told him he thought he was in a war zone outside the bar with violence, tear gas and mass confusion.
He added that Gardner was extremely upset and remorseful about the events that took place on the night of the shooting and at first did not know what happened to Scurlock.
Dornan said he recommended Gardner leave Omaha after Kleine initially announced no charges would be filed. Gardner reportedly received many death threats and fled to northern California.
KMTV also reports that lawyers said Gardner planned to return to Omaha Sunday night from the Portland, Oregon area, where he visited his father.