On the Fourth of July weekend, Thomas Quass and his girlfriend had dinner in Miami’s colorful, bustling Wynwood arts district and then decided to have just one drink before heading home to Fort Lauderdale.
For Quass, an AT&T employee and part-time swim coach, the night would soon take a sudden, deadly turn.
On Monday, Quass’ mother, Melisa Quass, appeared with Miami detectives to appeal to the public for help in finding the man who gunned down her 41-year-old son over what one resident said may have been a purse snatching gone tragically awry.
"You would love him too if you'd have known him," said Quass. “He made everybody laugh.”
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According to police, at 1:15 a.m. Saturday an armed man approached the couple as they were walking back to their car near NW 26th Streets and after some sort of confrontation shot Quass. The gunman then fled in a two-door gray Hyundai Veloster. Quass was taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Ryder Trauma Center but died shortly after arriving.
“This gentleman was enjoying his evening, just as we would have on our night off,” said Miami police detective Carlos Castellano.
Police have provided few details about what may have led to the incident. “What we can say at this moment was that the victim was a victim," said Castellano.
Melisa Quass, who flew in from Phoenix, said police had described the shooting to her as a “random situation.” She kept her composure as she shared the story of her son’s birth, the day after April Fool’s Day, calling him a true “jokester.”
The shooting occurred in front of houses, many with overgrown yards and chain link fences, just a few blocks from bars and restaurants that are typically packed on weekend nights.
Jose Gonzo, who lives across the street from where Quass was shot, told a Herald reporter that his cousin was home the night of the incident and ran to help. Gonzo said his cousin told him the gunman had grabbed Quass’s girlfriend’s purse and when Quass tried to grab it back, he opened fire.
“My grandmother has been here for 42 years,” he said. “Nothing like this has happened in a long time.”
The shooter has been described by police as a male about 5-foot-10 male weighing 170 pounds. He was last seen wearing a black and gray shirt, black pants and a black hat. Anyone with information about the incident is urged to contact Crime Stoppers at 305-471-8477.