OAKLEAF, Fla. – A SWAT team leader who helped save the life of federal agent shot in an ambush attack at a Clay County shopping center in September had received special medics training just a month before the shooting.
Deputy Jacob Hawkins, a 19-year veteran with the Clay County Sheriff's Office, said he never expected to put the training to use so soon.
“(I learned) a lot of the same concepts and ideas that I was able to treat the agent with during this class, so it really benefited,” Hawkins said.
Hawkins was the first officer to arrive at the scene Sept. 26 after a U.S. Customs and Border Protection pilot was shot by 18-year-old Jake Lewis IV, who committed suicide immediately after. Lewis had screamed “I hate f****** cops” before shooting the agent four times in the parking lot of a Publix in the Oakleaf area of Clay County.
The agent, whose name has not been released, was hit in the back of each leg, in the forearm and in the back.
Hawkins said he heard the radio call of a federal agent shot, didn’t think twice and got to the scene as quickly as possible, immediately giving first aid to the agent.
“I was just like, 'I have to help,' even though I -- at the time -- didn’t know this agent,” Hawkins said. “I envisioned one of my friends, one of my coworkers, someone I’m truly close to in that situation, and I just ran in to administer aid.”
Two more officers arrived shortly after Hawkins, and they got him medical gear while he helped the agent.
“I got down and laid beside the agent, explained to him who I was, 'Hey, I’m Jake Hawkins, deputy with the Sheriff's Office. I’m here to help you out.' It was just an eerie calmness about it,” Hawkins recalled. “He was very appreciative of everything, because applying a tourniquet... you really wrench on it, and it’s hurtful, but it does control the bleeding, and obviously, when I stuck my finger in his back, that was very uncomfortable for him as well, but it's something I truly felt I needed to do to control his bleeding.”
Hawkins said the experience made him value and respect his fellow law enforcement officers even more, and he’s grateful for the citizens who helped the agent until he arrived.
Hawkins visited the agent in the hospital the night of the shooting and has maintained contact with him and his wife ever since.
The agent has a long road ahead, but is expected to make a full recovery and plans to eventually go back to work -- thanks in part to the quick action of a well-trained law enforcement colleague.