Bessemer Ala. July 3 2010 Alabama A&M University head football Coach Anthony Jones said he is shocked at the early-morning shooting death of football standout Maurice Thomas.
“I think the kind of player he was, was exemplified in the way he played and the longevity of his career,” Jones said today. “I think a lot of people didn’t know the kind of person he was because people can’t see under the helmet. He was a young man who worked hard and believed in his teammates, his friends and his family. He was a kid you can count on.”
Thomas, 23, of Bessemer and two other men were shot about 3 a.m. inside the Getties Boyz Club, a biker bar, on 22nd Street and First Avenue North.
Bessemer police responded to the scene, assisted by the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office which was brought in to help with crowd control.
Thomas, a defensive back who finished college eligibility after last season, was pronounced dead on the scene. Two others were taken to area hospitals.
Bessemer Police Sgt. Darren Hunter said investigators are still trying to sort out details of the shooting. The other two victims, he said, are expected to survive their injuries and have been able to talk with detectives.
Authorities said the gunfire followed an altercation between two men inside the club. It wasn’t immediately known whether Thomas was involved in the altercation.
Share “Even though people are scattered all of the South and the country because it’s a holiday weekend, they are still calling,” Jones said. “I got a phone call at 6 a.m. and I’ve been getting phone calls ever since. It’s a testament to who he was.”
A graduate of McAdory High School, Thomas was a defensive back at A&M where going into last season he had 114 career tackles, including 77 solo, and two interceptions, according to the university’s media guide.
Thomas was a senior majoring in economics. He had one semester left, his family said today, and had just landed a summer job at Children’s Hospital.
His mother, Letha Thomas, was too grief stricken this morning to talk about her son.
“He was a great student, a great son and a superstar,” said family friend Barbara Gaines who said Thomas was like her own son. “All I know is my baby is gone.”
“Maurice had a sweet disposition. He was a peaceful person,” Gaines said.
His family said they have no idea what he was doing at the club. “It’s not a place for nobody,” Gaines said.