A U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent was shot and transported to the hospital after he "appeared to be ambushed" in an Oakleaf Publix parking lot with groceries in hand on Tuesday, according to the Clay County Sheriff's Office (CCSO).
The shooting happened at 1075 Oakleaf Plantation Parkway around 3:11 p.m. The suspect, Thomas Jacob Lewis IV, 18, died shortly after he shot the agent.
The unidentified agent, who was wearing his uniform, had exited the Publix and was headed to his personal vehicle when Lewis drove by him, shot him several times from another vehicle and struck his abdomen, according to Clay deputies. Lewis then drove off, shot himself and crashed into other vehicles. He died at the scene.
2) He was targeted 4 being a law enforcement officer. Thomas Jacob Lewis, IV, 18, shot him multiple times as he was walking to vehicle.— Clay County SO, FL (@ccsofl) September 27, 2017
Renee Lewis-Holmes, mother of Jake Lewis released a statement to First Coast News:
As the mother of Jake Lewis, I can only express my horror and grief at yesterday's events. Although Jake no longer lived with me as a result of the structure and discipline that I attempted to place on him, I loved him dearly and he would still text me. When the Clay County Sheriff's Office called me yesterday regarding his arrest warrant, I contacted Jake immediately and begged him to turn himself in. I would ask first for your prayers on behalf of the wounded officer and our law-enforcement community as they face danger every day. Second, I ask for your prayers for a grieving family that will try to remember Jake from better times. Finally if it is in your heart I ask for your prayers for the soul of my deceased son. Thank you for your patience and privacy during this difficult time.
"We're not exactly sure what the motive was behind this," said CCSO Chief Wayne McKinney. "The officer was wearing police clothing, a badge, and a shoulder holster."
The agent - who is part of the CBP Air and Marine Operations - was transported to a local hospital where he was undergoing surgery. Deputies said he has a "positive prognosis," despite being in critical condition.
Lewis had an active arrest warrant for sale and delivery of narcotics.
At least 30 witnesses were on scene, and some witnesses told First Coast News Lewis "didn't seem right."
"It just seems like one guy was extremely paranoid... he felt like a guy was following him and that's when he turned around and opened fire... shot [the officer] several times," a witness, who didn't want to be named, said.
Deputies said they don't know the connection between the agent and Lewis and that the two had no previous contact.
CCSO said the agent was dressed in uniform, leaving Publix carrying groceries when the shooting happened.
"It is disturbing," McKinney said. "It's something we live with each and every day knowing that going out in our community that there are individuals that would target us just for the badge that we wear on our chest."
The FBI is now lead on the investigation. CCSO is also urging first responders to report to Orange Park Medical for a blood drive.