Without offering any evidence, Nebraska state Sen. Megan Hunt accused an Omaha man who committed suicide Sunday of maintaining white supremacist ties because he shot a black man who had been allegedly involved in attacking his business.
Jake Gardner, a white Omaha bar owner and former U.S. Marine, committed suicide on Sunday after he was indicted by a grand jury last week with “manslaughter, attempted first-degree assault, terroristic threats, and weapon use” for shooting a black man, James Scurlock, on May 30. At the time, Gardner was defending his bar, The Gatsby, against protestors and rioters who threw objects at the windows.
“The indictment of Jake Gardner would never have happened without the community, the people, who stood up for justice and demanded action from city officials. Jake Gardner is gone, but the white supremacist attitudes that emboldened him are still with us today,” Hunt wrote.
While the incident involving Gardner and Scurlock was originally ruled self-defense by Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine, a special prosecutor was assigned to the case to appease the public after social media outcry.
“Cases should be decided in the courtroom — and not on social media,” Stu Dornan, one of Gardner’s lawyers, said, noting that Gardner had received death threats over social media.
Gardner, a veteran, suffered traumatic brain injuries during his time in military service. According to his lawyers, it was due to experience on his tours in Iraq that Gardner “felt like he was in a warlike environment during the chaos that engulfed downtown Omaha that night.”
Despite the circumstances and evidence about the deaths of both Scurlock and Gardner, Hunt continued her Twitter thread to claim that white supremacy motivated Gardner to shoot Scurlock, and that this racial angst requires more government action.
“Healing ourselves of white supremacy is so difficult and takes so long because it requires us to confront ourselves,” Hunt said.
“For white supremacy to be persistently rejected, it first needs to be unlearned. Sometimes over and over. We wish unlearning racism could be as simple as denouncing a white hood, a burnt cross, vile language. But we have to address where supremacy begins, not just where it ends,” she added.
Without providing any evidence, Hunt extended her allegations of white supremacy against Gardner, claiming that he “was in communication with” white supremacist groups.
While she attempted to address the dangers and stigmas of suicide and depression by calling on “leaders” to support mental illness treatment, Hunt offered her condolences to “the family of James Scurlock’s killer” without mentioning Gardner’s name.
Hunt also claimed that “justice here will not be served” due to Gardner’s untimely death.
Scurlock’s family’s attorney Justin Wayne took to social media before Gardner’s death, claiming that Gardner received special treatment with a delayed warrant for his arrest simply because he was white.
“ATTORNEYS: Next time you have a client with a warrant say we want the ‘Jake Treatment,’ ” he wrote. “Give us a few days to get our affairs in order and we will let you know when we surrender. Just say, ‘hey, we will get back to you on that … i.e. the Jake Treatment.’ ”