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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Suspect tracked down in 2023 attack apparently motivated by victim’s gay lifestyle

A Leesburg man was arrested this month for a battery suspected to have been motivated by the victim’s openly gay lifestyle.

Amos Devon Jackson
Amos Devon Jackson

Amos Devon Jackson, 57, sent the host of a neighborhood gathering to UF Hospital to receive 14 stitches after he smashed a glass vase on his forehead last year. He has since been arrested on a warrant for the battery. 

At about 3:14 a.m. April 8, 2023, officers from the Leesburg Police Department responded to an undisclosed Lake County residence regarding someone being struck on the head with a bottle, according to an affidavit of probable cause out of Lake County. 

One of the officers met the 50-year-old male victim who stated that he hosted a gathering at his residence. Jackson, who he only knew as “Famous Amos,” was among the guests at the gathering. He was not previously known to the victim but was welcome at the event, the affidavit said. 

The victim and his guests drank several alcoholic beverages throughout the evening, and Jackson fell asleep on the couch at some point. The victim began to cook some food, after which Jackson woke up. He stood up and shouted at the victim words to the effect that he was not about “that gay” stuff and another derogatory term, the affidavit said. 

The victim, who is openly gay, told Jackson to leave, but he refused. Jackson then grabbed a glass vase from the coffee table and struck the victim on his forehead. He left the residence with the vase and walked away from the area on foot. The victim described this vase as large and heavy, the affidavit said. 

Additional officers, including a K-9 handler and his partner, searched the area for Jackson but were unsuccessful. The K-9 track ended several blocks north of the victim’s residence. However, the report noted that there was a fair amount of foot traffic in that area which may have affected the track. They were also unable to find the vase, the affidavit said. 

Leesburg Fire Department and Lake EMS personnel were summoned to the scene to provide treatment for the victim. It was determined that the victim had two deep cuts that required stitches, and he was subsequently taken to UF Health Leesburg Hospital, located at 600 E. Dixie Avenue, for medical care, the affidavit said.  

An officer documented the victim’s injuries and residence with digital photos, which were later logged as evidence. He obtained a sworn, written statement from the victim, as well. He noted that during his interview with the victim, he stated that he believed Jackson struck him due to his lifestyle, the affidavit said. 

The officer next checked LPD records and was able to find a possible suspect, Jackson, but was unable to confirm if he was the person who struck the victim or find him, the affidavit said. 

On April 10, 2023, an LPD detective was assigned investigative responsibility for the case. He reviewed the officer’s incident report, the victim’s statement and the digital photos documenting two large cuts to the victim’s forehead and blood on the victim’s cough, the affidavit said. 

That afternoon, the detective met with the victim at his residence. He advised that he received 14 stitches for his injuries, 7 in each cut. He also provided more details about the incident, starting with the fact that it was a pre-Easter gathering at his home for guests that were primarily friends and neighbors, the affidavit said. 

An acquaintance of his came to the event and brought another subject whom he had never met. This person, Jackson, was identified to him as only “Famous Amos” who had just been released from jail after serving nine months. The acquaintance and Jackson were welcome at the event, and everything was fine for most of the evening, the affidavit said. 

The victim further advised that he was gay and wore 8” heels and a gay pride shirt during the event. Several times during the gathering, Jackson made negative comments regarding the victim’s lifestyle, which upset the victim. He told Jackson he could stay but had to stop the negative comments, the affidavit said. 

The acquaintance calmed the victim and said he would talk to Jackson. Still, Jackson came and went from the gathering several times, at one point being gone for about 20 minutes. The victim was seated on the sofa with a female friend when Jackson came back through the front door, shouted anti-gay slurs at the victim, picked up a heavy clear glass vase and struck him in the head. Jackson then left the residence and took the vase with him, the affidavit said. 

The detective asked the victim if he could identify Jackson, and he stated he believed he could. He told the victim that a photographic line-up would be requested and that he would be contacted when it was ready. The detective proceeded to contact an independent company that creates line-ups for law enforcement and asked that they make one including Jackson, the affidavit said. 

Meanwhile, further investigation determined that Jackson was recently released from prison after having served about 10 months. He was currently on community control. On the afternoon of April 12, 2023, the detective was informed that an arrest warrant had been issued for Jackson by the Department of Corrections for violating the conditions of his release for reasons unrelated to this incident, the affidavit said. 

On the morning of April 13, 2023, the detective got the finished line-up through his email. There were six photos of men similar in age and appearance to Jackson. He called the victim and made an appointment to meet at his residence that afternoon so he could see the photographic line-up, the affidavit said. 

The detective got a call from a female later that morning who stated that she needed to speak with him about an open case. She gave the case number for this incident and stated that her cousin had been involved. She then identified her cousin as Jackson, the affidavit said. 

The caller claimed that she was at the victim’s residence during a portion of the gathering but left before the incident documented in this case. Sometime after she left, she got a call from Jackson who advised her that he might be in trouble. Jack told her that he and the victim, who he referred to as “the punk,” had words, that “the punk” kept trying him and that he wanted to leave the party, but the acquaintance he came to the party with would not drive him home, the affidavit said. 

Jackson said something about a vase and that he might be in trouble. He became upset when the caller asked why he could not simply walk away from the gathering if he wanted to leave. The phone call ended at that time. The phone number the caller used, which showed on caller ID, was associated with the same the caller provided based on a check of LPD records, affidavit said. 

The detective conducted an internet search and discovered multiple sources that listed the use of the word “punk” as a homophobic slur, particularly when referencing black gay men and referencing the subject assuming the feminine or passive role in a gay relationship. This appeared to support the assertion by the victim that the attack on him by Jackson was motivated by his gay lifestyle, the affidavit said. 

Two detectives, including the investigative detective, then met with the victim at his residence to show him the photographic line-up. The victim immediately and positively identified Jackson as the person who struck him with the vase. He placed his initials and the date next to Jackson’s photo, the affidavit said. 

On the morning of April 14, 2023, the detective reviewed an officer’s body cam footage from the initial response to the victim’s residence and his meeting with the victim at the hospital. During his response, the officer spoke with at least two subjects outside the victim’s residence, one male and one female, who advised that the suspect was Jackson, known as “Famous Amos.” They also indicated that the victim was attacked because he was gay, the affidavit said. 

Additionally, the victim was seen wearing a black t-shirt with the words “Gay and ready to play” written in rainbow colors typically associated with gay pride flags and other items supporting that lifestyle, the affidavit said. 

During the interview with the victim and the officer at the hospital, the victim stated that Jackson kept making gestures toward him that were anti-gay or mocking him. Jackson was told several times that if he was not in the group or comfortable being around that lifestyle, he could leave. Jackson apparently stayed and continued to partake of the food and alcohol provided by the victim while making anti-gay comments and gestures, the affidavit said. 

A review of Jackson’s criminal history showed arrest records in both Georgia and Florida. His Georgia record consisted of multiple DUI and driving while license suspended offenses. His Florida arrest record was extensive and dates to 1987, including 21 felony convictions and 15 misdemeanor convictions, the affidavit said. 

The offenses included battery with a firearm, cocaine possession, cocaine possession with intent to sell, resist/obstruct officer without violence, resist/obstruct officer with violence, aggravated assault with weapon, aggravated battery (pregnant female), probation violation, grand theft ($100k or more), domestic battery and other offenses, the affidavit said. 

Jackson was ultimately arrested on an active Lake County warrant on the morning of Monday, June 3, in Orange County, according to an Orange County warrant arrest affidavit. A second warrant for violation of parole out of Jacksonville was also confirmed and placed as a hold. He was transferred to the custody of the Lake County Sheriff’s Office on June 6. 

Jackson was charged with aggravated battery (deadly weapon while victim was selected based on prejudice). He was taken to Lake County Jail with bond set at $25,000. 

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