Protester Killed Is Remembered As Caring, Goofy; Suspect Still in Custody

James Scurlock Shot to Death During Protest, National Guard Called to Assist in Tonight's Protests, Rally at Malcolm X Memorial Foundation Tonight at 6 p.m.


Diamond Davis, 19, of Omaha, stands on 13th and Harney streets near where her friends James “JuJu” Scurlock was shot and killed Saturday night. Photo by Chris Bowling.

 

Diamond Davis wept under a cloudless sky as cars passed on the hot pavement outside the Old Market Sunday afternoon.

Between hugs and comforting hands placed on her back, she mourned the loss of her friend James “JuJu” Scurlock who died a few feet away near the corner of 12th and Harney streets last night in a shooting as the city experienced its second night of violent protests.

Davis said she’d know the 22-year-old Scurlock for five years and that the two bonded when his family took Davis in when she was homeless. He and his family were the only reason she graduated from Benson High School, she said. Now she just wants people to remember his name. Remember the goofy, caring person who left behind a large family, loyal friends and a 4-month-old daughter who hasn’t even started to crawl yet, Davis said.

“He was there for me at my lowest,” Davis said, “and now I need to be there for him.”

A memorial fund has been started for Scurlock.

Today police said the suspect, who was arrested at 11:27 p.m., is still in custody. No charges have been filed yet but Omaha Chief of Police Todd Schmaderer said that the crime was being investigated as a murder and the Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine will be making a charging decision at an upcoming press conference. Mayor Jean Stothert announced the city would enact a 72-hour state of emergency and curfew from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. starting Sunday night and

Scurlock was allegedly shot by the owner of a prominent downtown business in an altercation caught on video. Omaha police have not released the suspect’s name but he’s been widely identified on social media as Jake Gardner, the owner of The Hive and The Gatsby bars in the Old Market.

A defense fund was started in Gardner’s name on GoFundMe, however, it seems to have been deleted by the time of this article’s publishing. 

The video footage from late last night shows a small crowd outside of what appears to be The Hive near 12th and Harney streets in the Old Market. 

“This n***a got a gun, bro,” the person behind the camera says as several men stand around each other. “This n***a got a gun. It’s not worth it.”

Suddenly one person appears to jump on another person’s back. After a few seconds of struggle, there’s two loud bangs. The person filming turns the camera on himself and runs away.

This morning, photos outside The Hive showed several windows were shattered. 

In a post on his Facebook account made hours before the shooting, Jake Gardner wrote, “Just when you think ‘ what else could 2020 throw at me?’ Then you have to pull 48 hours of military style firewatch.”

Omaha police tweeted they had a suspect in custody at 11:27 p.m.

The protest downtown followed gatherings at 72nd and Dodge both Friday and Saturday night where police deployed tear gas and pepper bullets on protesters. Omaha Chief of Police Todd Schmaderer has stated that a few individuals in the otherwise peaceful crowd prompted the response after police were threatened. 

The shooting occurred as protesters moved through downtown last night. Community leaders in attendance expressed outrage on social media when individuals, universally described as white males, began breaking windows and spray painting graffiti.

Early the next morning hundreds of volunteers gathered in the Old Market to help business owners scrub off the paint, clean up the broken glass and board up windows. A family member of at least one business posted that damage can be repaired, but lives, like Scurlock’s, will not return.

Under the hot sun, Davis stood with a white bandana tied around her hair and a tattoo across her right collarbone that read, “In the pain comes strength.” As the curfew is enacted, Davis said she’s not going anywhere. But she wants fellow protesters speaking out about police brutality and government indifference to stop the violence.

“If we stand together as the people,” she said, “we have a voice.”


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