Following last week's funeral for Jake, his family offered up this obituary to some local media outlets but they were mostly turned down. As part of my efforts to tell the entire story on this sad situation over the past 14 months (talking with family members and friends for both sides), I have elected to print the family's comments in their entirety:
Jacob “Superman” Gardner
November 14, 1981 – September 20, 2020
On July 8th, 2021 Jacob Gardner was laid to rest with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia. About one hundred of his closest family and friends were in attendance. As the Marine rifle team fired their 21 gun salute, and the bugler played Taps, there was not a dry eye among those 100 friends that had flown in to our nation’s capital to pay their last respects. The US Government, and the United States Marine Corps gave him the honor in death, that he deserved in life from the City of Omaha. He now rests eternally among many other heroes of this nation at the hallowed grounds of Arlington. It is a final resting place that can not be bought, only earned. Those that knew him, will always remember him as a hero.
On November 14, 1981, Jake Gardner was born in El Paso, Texas. He was bright eyed, sharp, kind, funny, and inquisitive as a child. They were all aspects of his personality that followed him into adulthood. He attended the Northeast Christian Academy in El Paso from kindergarten to seventh grade. His childhood in Texas was spent shopping with his mother, enjoying her beef brisket and other wonderful dishes, watching movies with his dad, reading comic books with his younger brother, and attending church with his grandmother.
In 1995 the Gardner’s moved to Omaha, Nebraska. Jake attended Millard North Middle School. According to various sources he may have been partly responsible for a rather infamous cafeteria food fight on his last day of junior high. Jake then attended Millard West High School. He was known as an entertainer even in those years, hosting parties, and greeting those in attendance with a frosty beverage and a smile. After his senior year he spent one summer at home socializing with his high school friends.
In November of 2000 Jake enlisted in the United States Marine Corps Infantry. Years later, while reminiscing on that time in his life he said, “It takes a special type of person who is willing to take a bullet for his country.” When Jake showed up to boot camp he weighed about 140 lbs, as his drill instructors soon found out, most of that weight was heart. While many wise recruits know that keeping a low profile during boot camp is a good policy, that was not the tactic Jake chose to employ. A few weeks before he shipped out to MCRD San Diego Jake had gotten a tattoo. As the platoon stood online shirtless for the first time his drill instructors eyes began to bulge out of their heads. His tattoo covered his chest, it was a full size full color Superman emblem. From that moment on his nickname, “Superman,” was born.
After completing the School of Infantry, and the Light Armored Vehicle crewman course, Jake was sent to 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion in Camp Lejeune North Carolina. He was first assigned to the Weapons Company Mortar Platoon. Then to Bravo Company. March 20th 2003 the ground war in Iraq began. The Marines of 2nd LAR served as the tip of the spear of the RCT 1 invasion force. The unit received the Presidential Unit Citation for completing the longest sequence of coordinated overland attacks in Marine Corps history. While he served bravely in combat, many of his fellow Marines recall the way he used his humor to keep morale high even during the most tense of situations. After four months of continuous combat operations Jake returned to Camp Lejeune. His break from combat was short lived. He deployed as part of a quick reaction force to Haiti in February of 2004. It was in Haiti that Jake earned his second combat action ribbon.
Jake Gardner was honorably discharged in November of 2004. He left the Marines with a long list of brothers in arms, some he kept in contact with until his death, and some who had already made the ultimate sacrifice whose memories he cherished until they met at the gates of heaven.
After the Military Jake enrolled at Metro Community college in Omaha, before moving to Arcata, California to attend Humboldt State University. It was there on the beaches of the redwood coast that Jake found some much needed peace. It was much needed, and well deserved after his experiences overseas. In 2009 he returned back to Omaha with his trusty Czech Shepherd service dog Lebron, named after Jake’s favorite basketball player. Lebron accompanied Jake everywhere, including 5 NBA final’s games.
An aspiring entrepreneur, he started his first business in 2009. A lawn care business called Amerigreen. In 2010 he started bartending, and in 2011 he opened his first bar, the Hive lounge. Jake didn’t look at bar ownership the same way as many other owners in the industry. Instead of just serving drinks, Jake strove to throw the best party he could every night. The Hive hosted Omaha’s first reggae night, and years later he added salsa dance night as well.
In 2014 he met a woman that became the love of his life. They travelled, laughed, took pictures, watched movies, walked their dogs, and cared dearly for one another until his end and beyond.
His business thrived, when asked what the secret to his success was he responded simply. “Make every woman that walks through the door feel safe, and only play music that people want to dance to.”
When the scourge of the coronavirus took hold of the country, Jake’s business ground to a halt. On May 30th 2020 he was busy preparing for his business to reopen the following week. Tragically, that night violent rioters committed assaults and property damage in downtown Omaha. Jake’s plan was simple, protect his business from being burned, pull the fire alarm and call the police when the windows were broken. The windows were broken, and Jake called the police and pulled the fire alarm. After the crowd of destructive rioters cleared the street Jake and his father went out on the sidewalk to survey the damage. Unfortunately the property damage was not enough to appease the violent mob, and many rioters returned to find more targets of opportunity. More widows began to be broken and Jake’s father told the rioters responsible to leave. Then the surveillance video shows his father was violently attacked. Jake did not see the assault of his father, but ran up the street and positioned himself in between the advancing violent mob and his downed father. For over 50 feet Jake walks backwards trying to deescalate the situation. In the final moments of the altercation Jake was tackled by multiple assailants, with his back on the concrete as a last resort he discharged one warning shot in the air with the pistol he was legally allowed to possess in that situation under Nebraska state Law. Jake’s original attackers flee and Jake rolled over on his hands and knees to try to get up. At that moment another assailant jumps on Jake’s back and puts him in a rear naked choke. It was a technique designed to try to kill Jake Gardner. The incident marks the third time that evening that Jake’s current assailant had attacked the business. Jake’s final assailant was a violent career criminal, that had already been convicted of an armed home invasion, and the beating of a pregnant woman, his own child’s mother. The assailant was trying to choke Jake to death. Jake can be heard pleading with his assailant on the video evidence, “Get off me, get off me, please get off me.” To save his own life, Jake Gardner was forced to reach over his shoulder, then shot and killed his attacker.
The following day, Omaha DA Don Klein had a press conference where he showed the video exonerating Jake Gardner of any wrong doing, and announced Jake would not be charged. Sadly, after 36 days of protests outside his house the DA caved to the will of the mob, and appointed Fred Franklin as a special prosecutor. Fred Franklin convened a grand jury, then engaged in the falsifying of evidence and other unlawful conduct. Franklin’s motives are undoubtedly nefarious, but according to a US attorney that worked with Franklin one stands out, greed. By trying a man who Franklin knew to be innocent, it is speculated that he may have been hoping to be involved in a high profile case and make money selling a book about it. Jake was charged with 94 years of unjust charges for having the courage to defend his own life from a violent multiple felon who was actively trying to choke him to death, all of which was captured on high resolution video. As Jake once remarked, “It’s hard to know what someone looks like when they jump on your back in the middle of the night and try to choke you to death.”
After the corrupt decision of the grand jury based on falsified evidence was revealed, Jake lost all hope in the legal system and tragically ended his own life on September 20, 2020. Jake Gardner was laid to rest among other heroes of this great nation in Arlington, Virginia, with full military honors.
Those that knew and loved Jake are people that represent different races, cultures, and creeds. All will remember Jake’s smile, his character, his dedication to defend the constitution, his wit, his intellect, and his willingness to help those in need. He was a man that fought valiantly against terrorism and violent extremism in Iraq, Haiti, and Omaha. He was truly, a Superman. We pray that he has found eternal peace among the sound of lapping waves on heaven’s beach.
Instead of flowers, or donations the family asks that anyone concerned with having the truth revealed to write Governor Pete Ricketts and request that the grand jury transcripts be unsealed, so that those that falsified evidence and bore false witness against an innocent American hero can be held accountable.
Office of the Governor
PO Box 94848
Lincoln, NE 68509-4848
Office Email: Brittany.firstname.lastname@example.org
“To live in a world where truth matters and justice, however late, really happens, that world would be heaven enough for us all.” -Rubin “Hurricane” Carter