MIAMI (CBS4) – A veteran New York City Police detective who was shot early Saturday on South Beach is out of a medically-induced coma and is improving after a number of surgeries.
“Right now, we are happy. We are so happy,” said New York City Police detective Joseph Cusanelli. “We spoke to the doctor and he is doing great. He’s improving.”
Detective Harold Thomas is recovering after undergoing three surgeries, according to CBS4 news partner, The Miami Herald.
Rabbi Phineas Weberman also visited the detective and told CBS4′s Peter D’Oench, “The detective’s eyes are open and he has tubes in his mouth. He is not able to intelligently speak, but I can see how he appreciated the prayer I gave and he tried to mumble along with me as I prayed for him.”
“I am glad I visited Detective Thomas,” said Weberman. “I felt I should be here. Many police officers are very spiritual and need prayer.”
A source told CBS4 the 48-year-old Thomas, who is a 27-year veteran of the New York Police force, was here with two other New York officers for a birthday celebration when he was shot.
“I do know that it appears that this was an attempted robbery,” said Cusanelli, who flew to Miami after hearing about the shooting on Saturday. Cusanelli is also with the Detectives’ Endowment Association.
Thomas’ father, two children and sisters are among the loved ones who are with him at the Ryder Trauma Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital. Holding hands to support each other, three of Thomas’ loved ones received an escort as they left the hospital. They declined to speak on camera and were driven away from the hospital.
Detective Thomas was shot during a confrontation at around 7 a.m. last Saturday. Miami Beach Police have released only some details about the shooting.
The shooting happened in a courtyard near the hotel where Thomas was staying at 1233 Collins Avenue. He was staying in an apartment at the Lofts, a hotel that has rental units.
A source told D’Oench that Thomas fired three times and probably wounded his attacker. One eyewitness said he heard 10 to 15 shots being fired, leaving a number of bullet holes in a building.
Though on vacation and off-duty, Thomas was authorized to carry a weapon because he is also part of the elite Joint Terrorism Task Force, the source said.
“It’s a big concern, what happened here. Thank God he was prepared and did what he had to do,” said Cusanelli.
Detective Thomas was shot in a femoral artery in his upper thigh, authorities say.
As they left the hospital with Thomas’ loved ones, the New York detectives expressed their gratitude for the public’s support.
“I just want to say thank you to the community on behalf of the family and the support for everything they are doing here,” said Cusanelli.
“Now we hope that Miami Beach police will find the people who did this,” said Cusanelli.
Police said there is surveillance tape from the crime, but they are not releasing it right now.
So far, no one has been arrested, according to Police spokesman, Detective Juan Sanchez.