• A grand jury in Nebraska had charged Jake Gardner with manslaughter Sept. 15
  • Gardner received death threats following the shooting of James Scurlock, his attorney said during a press conference
  • Scurlock was killed amid widespread protests sparked by the police killing of George Floyd in May

A white Nebraska bar owner who was facing charges for fatally shooting a Black Lives Matter protester in May died by suicide in Oregon on Sunday, his attorney said.

Jake Gardner, 38, was scheduled to return to Omaha, Neb., the same day to turn himself over to the authorities, NBC-affiliated local channel WOWT reported. A grand jury in Nebraska had charged him with manslaughter Sept. 15 for the killing of 20-year-old James Scurlock on May 30. He was also facing other charges such as attempted assault, making terroristic threats, and using a gun to commit a felony.

Gardner’s body was found outside a medical clinic in Oregon, according to a statement by the Hillsboro Police Department. The department said it was investigating the alleged suicide.

His death was confirmed by his attorney, Stu Dornan, during a press conference Sunday. “The family of Jake Gardner has asked Tom Monaghan and myself to share the news of his death today, at his own hand,” Dornan said. A suicide note wasn’t found near his body, he added.

“Unfortunately, there are two men who have died in a terrible tragedy,” Dornan added. “It's a terrible tragedy for the Omaha community, it's a terrible tragedy for James Scurlock and his family, it's a terrible tragedy for the Gardner family.”

Gardner shot and killed Scurlock on May 30 amid widespread protests over the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis. Surveillance video reportedly showed protesters and Gardner engaging in an argument. In the middle of the encounter, demonstrators shoved Gardner, who was armed with a gun, to the ground and he fired at least two shots. Scurlock then jumped on Gardner’s back and the latter shot him in the neck.

Dornan said during the press conference that Gardner was forced to leave Omaha due to the death threats he was receiving following the death of Scurlock. However, it wasn't clear what he was doing in Oregon. Dornan said Gardner, an Iraq war veteran, had told him he felt as if he was in a war zone on the night of Scurlock’s death.

After reviewing videos and witness statements, Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine believed Gardner acted in self-defense and therefore initially declined to file charges against him. He was charged after a grand jury reviewed additional evidence, including cell phone videos and police interviews of about 60 bystanders, Associated Press reported.

Gun shooting bullets
A representational image of a handgun and bullets. Wikimedia Commons