MIAMI BEACH (CBS4) – It was a case that was a top priority for Miami Beach Police: the attempted robbery and shooting of a New York City police detective, and now they have announced the arrest of two men in the case.
Relatives of wounded detective, 48-year-old Harold Thomas, were so grateful that they came to Miami Beach Police headquarters to thank that city’s police force for their work.
“We give them all our thanks,” said his sister Cynthia Thomas. “They worked and worked on this case and they never stopped. Thank God that even with all my brother went through, his life was spared.”
“It’s terrible that it happened this way,” said the detective’s son Brandon. “We want to thank everyone here and ask that everyone keep him in their prayers. It’s been tough on the family, but my father is a strong man.”
Thomas, who is a 27-year veteran of the New York police force and a member of the elite Joint Terrorism Task force, was in Miami Beach celebrating a birthday with two fellow officers last weekend when the shooting happened.
Police said the two men were waiting for him in a courtyard by his hotel at 12th St. and Collins Ave. around 7 a.m. when he returned from another hotel after walking there with his friends.
A source tells CBS4 that the men ripped a chain from his neck and tried to steal his watch. A confrontation followed. Witnesses said 10 to 15 shots were fired. The source said Thomas fired three shots.
All of those shots may have struck the suspects. Police revealed that both were wounded.
In announcing the arrests, police said the first suspect had actually been in police custody since the first day. They said 28-year-old Mustafa Lee was wounded in the leg and “lower extremities.” He was seen limping from the scene. They said he checked in to Plantation General Hospital and was transported to Broward General Medical Center. That’s where police caught up with him, D’Oench reported.
A check of records shows that Lee has an extensive arrest record. He has been arrested for burglary, battery, robbery, assault and second degree arson.
Police also said the second man arrested and charged in this case with armed robbery with a deadly weapon and attempted felony murder is 35-year-old Francisco Henriquez. Records show he too had been arrested. Last October, those records show he was charged with armed robbery, grand theft and fleeing.
Since both men have records, their DNA is on file. And since both were wounded, they left DNA at the crime scene, which helped police solve this case,” D’Oench reported.
After a court appearance, Henriquez was held without bond.
“To think that an officer comes down here on vacation like this and gets shot during an attempted robbery is hard to believe,” said New York Police detective Joseph Cusanelli. “But I have to commend the Miami Beach Police Department for their work.”
Miami Beach Police spokesperson, Detective Vivian Hernandez, said, “It is extremely gratifying to see the work that the police did in this case. And the message is that we will do whatever we can to our fullest ability to catch people in such cases and make sure the streets are safe. We want the public to know that our streets are safe.”
Gus Sanchez, the Vice President of the Miami Beach Fraternal Order of Police, said, “We want to assure everyone that our streets are safe. And all of the police in this case did an outstanding job.”
Thomas’ loved ones said that they are hopeful.
“He is in very good spirits,” said Thomas’ sister Denise. “But why is it so often the bad guys are safe and the good guys get hurt. But I have to say that he is hopeful. And we believe that he will recover, with the love of all his family.”
Thomas’ sister Cynthia said their prayers and thoughts are with him.
“He is a very loving person and he is full of life,” she said. “He likes to help people. And we do hope and pray he will get through this.”