JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The I-TEAM has uncovered new information in the investigation into the Father's Day vandalism of Lito Sheppard's car in Jacksonville Beach. The former Philadelphia Eagles cornerback has been granted a temporary restraining order after asking the court to keep Jabar Gaffney from coming near Sheppard or his family.
Gaffney and Sheppard, both former NFL players, returned to Jacksonville following their professional football careers. The two grew up in Jacksonville, were teammates at Raines High School and then played alongside each other at the University of Florida before entering the NFL.
Sheppard turned to the I-TEAM for help last week, sharing surveillance video from a camera in the parking lot where his car was vandalized June 17 while he and his wife had dinner nearby. He wanted the public's help to identify the man and woman seen in the video tampering with his gas tank and slashing all four of his tires.
Sheppard told the I-TEAM he filed the petition for protection against his former friend and teammate after he said Gaffney is the man seen in the video pouring something into his gas tank. However, Jacksonville Beach Police are still investigating and have not named Gaffney as a suspect in the vandalism.
The video shows a tall, skinny man spending about 25 minutes next to Sheppard's car, specifically the gas tank. A woman is also with the man, and is seen on video walking around Sheppard's car and appears to bend down systematically by each tire.
Sheppard had no idea something was wrong with his car until it stalled out about a block from where he was parked. He didn't know it was vandalized until his dealership sent him pictures of the slash marks in each tire and the damage to the gas cap. The total damage is just over $14,000.
Sheppard told the I-TEAM he's requested a judge issue a stalking injunction because he does not know why he is being targeted by Gaffney and is concerned about his family's safety.
In Sheppard's petition for injunction, which he signed under oath, he wrote:
"I seek this injunction to prevent any further harassment or threats from R (respondent). R (respondent) has publicly defamed by character and continues to disrupt my family life as well as damages my personal property."
Sheppard also said in his petition that he and Gaffney have had problems for the last seven years stemming from false allegations claiming Sheppard had an affair with Gaffney's wife.
Since this story was first published, Gaffney's attorney, Seth Schwartz, sent us this statement:
“Jabar Gaffney is absolutely maintaining it’s not him. I don’t think it looks like him; other people that have seen him don’t think it looks like him. The whole thing is ridiculous. We will take a look at the injunction and defend it. Jabar Gaffney has no clue why this is happening because he hasn’t seen Lito Sheppard in three years. He (Gaffney) is getting aggravated because his name is being drug through the mud nationally and he is innocent.”
Schwartz added neither he nor Gaffney have been contacted by the Jacksonville Beach Police Department.
“They’ve not contacted him or my office and quite frankly, I don’t think the claim is credible.”
This is a temporary order of protection, and a court hearing has been set for July 3. If Gaffney and/or Sheppard fail to appear, the temporary injunction may be continued in force, extended, entered as permanent or dismissed.