The Newark Police Department reports the death of 27 year old Frederick Thomas III. Thomas is believed to be the victim of a fight which occurred on Friday night, (9/22), at about 10 p.m. The initial 911 call came in of a man who was unresponsive on the ground near the intersection of East Avenue and Siegrist Street. Responding Officer’s and Emergency Medical Personnel found Thomas breathing but unconscious.
Thomas was found lying in the grass near BB’s Pizzeria on East Avenue in Newark. Newark Police Chief David Christler says there are still some unanswered questions. He says the call came in to 911 as a drug overdose. But when officers arrived, he says they realized it was something else.
“He was unconscious,” says Chief Christler. “It’s difficult sometimes to tell the difference between an assault and a heroin overdose. We’ve had several heroin overdoses that are very similar. But when they pulled him up to help him, there was blood under his head.”
Thomas was transported to Newark Wayne Community Hospital and then transferred by air to Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester where he remained in a coma until his passing on Tuesday morning.
“I came out to finish my night out, to take out the trash,” said Greg Naschke, who works at BB’s Pizzeria. “I saw the boy lying over there. I saw a few people circled around him. I walked over. I asked what had happened. They told me he hit his head.”
“His eyes were rolled in the back of his head.,” said Naschke. “He was unresponsive. He looked like he was in a coma. You see somebody like that, you want to help them immediately.” Naschke said he wanted to drive Thomas to the hospital.
It was believed Thomas was asking for a ride home from a party when the fight erupted, but that woman’s boyfriend was also in the car and refused to let Thomas ride along. Witnesses say Thomas was punched - at least three times -
“Why did you do this to my son and left him on the ground like he was nothing,” asks Tonya Collins of her son’s attacker.
Collins thought she would never become a grieving mother who loses her son to senseless violence especially not the second of her three sons, Frederick Thomas. She says her son didn’t have enemies. Thomas’ family members indicated his brain was swollen when he died.
The Medical Examiner’s Office is working on an exact cause of death - specifically, whether Thomas died from the punches, from the impact of hitting the ground or from some other factor.
“From the information we are getting, I can tell you it sounds like a senseless fight and it should not have happened,” the chief says. “It’s a senseless death, because everyone loved this person,” said Newark Police Chief Dave Christler.
Known affectionately as “Buddy,” Thomas grew up in Wayne County. He loved music. He worked at the Wayne County Nursing Home.
Collins said Thomas had a passion for music and enjoyed playing basketball. “I want the person to turn themselves in.”
“Buddy was the nicest person I know,” says Alexis Jones, cousin. “He was kind; he was loving, really down to earth. He really never bothered anyone. His smile would light up a room. If you ask anyone, they will probably tell you he was a really good guy.”
Chief Christler says investigators have a few more interviews to conduct but says his department is close to making an arrest. The name of the second party in the fight is now known to investigators as they continue this investigation. No weapons were seen or displayed during the reported altercation.
Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call 911 or the Newark Police Department at (315) 331-3701.
Story with the combined help of Times news partner WHAM13