Investigators: Teen screamed 'I hate ... cops' before shooting federal agent

I-TEAM uncovers possible motive in shooting of agent outside Oakleaf Publix

By Erik Avanier - Reporter

OAKLEAF, Fla. - An 18-year-old posted messages on social media about how he wanted revenge against police before ambushing and shooting a customs agent in September outside a Publix in the Oakleaf area, according to a supplemental case report by the Clay County Sheriff's Office. 

The 56-page incident report obtained by the I-TEAM Thursday reveals Thomas Jacob "Jake" Lewis IV screamed, "I hate f****** cops" before shooting the agent four times and then turning the gun on himself Sept. 26.

The agent, who is a pilot for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Air and Marine Operations agency, is doing well after undergoing surgery and he's expected to be back on duty after Thanksgiving, the report says. 

The report sheds light on why detectives believe the agent was ambushed. According to the report, it appeared Lewis, who had learned there was a warrant out for his arrest on drug charges, was upset at law enforcement in general.

The report says Lewis' girlfriend told investigators that when she last spoke to him on the phone, he was "freaking out" about a situation and said, "if he sees a cop he was going to off them."

A friend of Lewis told deputies that the teen had posted messages on social media about law enforcement activity and how he was seeking revenge, the report says.

When detectives spoke to the agent who was shot, the agent said, he was walking out of the Publix, carrying groceries to his car, when he heard a vehicle come up behind him and saw a man point a gun out of the window and yell, "I hate f****** cops." 

News4Jax crime and safety analyst Gil Smith said the case is a prime example of police being targeted for no reason.

"This suspect wasn't after this particular officer, just anyone in uniform," Smith said. "It just underscores the growing dangers and the anti-police sentiment that keeps growing in this country."

The I-TEAM also learned from the report that the agent was wearing a shirt identifying himself as a customs agent, even though he was off-duty at the time. The report says the agent was shot four times and pulled his gun from his holster only after he had fallen to the ground. Several people who witnessed the shooting came to the agent's aid until paramedics arrived.

Moments after the shooting, deputies said, Lewis crashed into other vehicles and then fatally shot himself in the head. 

Investigators interviewed more than 20 witnesses and looked over surveillance video from several businesses. According to the report, one of the videos was from a nearby gas station, where a witness believes Lewis was involved in a drug deal before the shooting. 

The Sheriff's Office searched Lewis’ home, but found nothing of evidentiary value. 

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