Police: Couple made threats before police-involved shooting

Published On: Dec 12 2012 09:44:29 AM EST
Updated On: Dec 12 2012 09:18:34 PM EST

VIDEO: Police release new information leading up to Tuesday's police involved shooting.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

The woman arrested after her passenger was shot and killed for taking a shot at a Jacksonville police officer had just sent an email threatening to kill her boss and the police.

The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office identified the man killed Tuesday morning as 56-year-old Lesley Cowan, who had just bought ammunition from Academy Sports store on Atlantic Boulevard.

JSO Chief Tom Hackney said that officer fired seven times at a pickup truck in which Cowan was a passenger, striking him multiple times. He died at the scene.

The woman driving, Tammy Gill, 51, continued driving away, but stopped about a quarter-mile away on Atlantic Boulevard, where she was taken into custody on three felony charges.

Police say officers had responded to a 911 call from the store about 9:20 a.m. Tuesday saying a man was carrying a shotgun into the store and refused several requests to check it with customer service, as is required by store policy.

When the officer arrived, Cowan was leaving and pointed a revolver (pictured, right) out the window of the pickup truck he was in and fired one shot, Hackney said.

He said in the course of the investigation, police learned Cowan lived with Gill at an Atlantic Self Storage, where she was a manager.  Police say she was in the process of being terminated. A company spokesman said she was being let go because she had failed to show up for two consecutive work days without notice.

After Tuesday morning's shooting, investigators found an email sent by Gill less then 30 minutes before the shooting threatening to kill the company's owner, his family, police and "anyone who stood in their way."

A source who has seen the email quoted it as saying, "I'm going to kill all of you, the Jacksonville and Neptune Beach police. I'm God and you need to get off of my planet."

"Within 20 minutes of sending this threatening email, threatening all kinds of people's lives, they actually went out and purchased ammunition -- probably the first place they could find it," Hackney said. "Who knows where they were going from there."

Police said Cowan bought two boxes of 7.62-mm ammunition and three boxes of shotgun shells. They said in addition to carrying the loaded shotgun into the store, Cowan also was carrying the revolver used to fire at the officer in a holster. He did not have a permit to carry a concealed weapon.

A 22-caliber handgun was found in the pickup truck next to Gill.

Police said Cowan told an Academy Sports employee who wanted to check his shotgun that he'd blow their heads off if they took his gun. Hackney praised the store for cooperating with the customer rather than aggravating him.

Gill is charged with written threats to kill or do bodily harm, carrying a concealed weapon and fleeing law enforcement. She is being held on $500,000 bond.

Police said Cowan had no criminal record.

Officer Brad Hudson, who fired the fatal shot, is a 22-year police veteran. He will remain on administrative leave while the police-involved shooting is under review.

This was the second time Hudson has been involved in a fatal police shooting. In July 2007, several suspects robbed a hotel near Baymeadows and Interstate 95. Police chased the suspects up I-95 to Northwest Jacksonville, where one of them was shot and killed by Hudson at Gardiner Sams Park.

The state attorney's office ruled that shooting justifiable, and the JSO Response to Resistance Board found Hudson's actions were within departmental guidelines.

Police say Tuesday's fatal shooting is tragic, but may have prevented something worse.

"It's fortunate the officers were there to prevent who knows what from happening at that time," Hackney said.

Forensic psychologist Stephen Bloomfield said, based on what's know of the facts, the couple's actions may have stemmed from Gill's termination.

"It’s particularly scary since it seems so random, but it was directed at the loss she was experiencing," Bloomfield told Channel 4's Erica Rakow.

In a statement for Atlantic Self Storage released late Wednesday, Randall Whitefield wrote: "Our thoughts and prayers are with all involved, including the employees of the Academy Sports and Officer Hudson."