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Homicide: PA police ID shooting victim


By Mary Meaux


Port Arthur Police on Thursday afternoon ID’d the victim of an early Wednesday shooting death.

Michael Lynn Thomas, 56, suffered a gunshot wound to the torso area around 1:47 a.m. at or near the Fabric Care Washateria, located at 2925 25th St., in what police described as “a brutal and cowardly act of violence.”

Thomas, who was described as suffering from “a mental illness” and was homeless, was transported to St. Elizabeth Hospital in Beaumont on Wednesday but died from his injuries, police said.

Justice of the Peace Pct. 4 Ray Chesson pronounced Thomas deceased and ordered an autopsy, according to information from Chesson’s office.

Thomas’ name was withheld through early Thursday afternoon as police sought his next of kin. His name was revealed late Thursday afternoon.

Unknown is whether the shooting occurred inside the business or outside, or if there were witnesses.

“We are asking for the community’s assistance in helping us solve this brutal and cowardly act of violence,” police said in an issued statement. “The Criminal Investigation Division at PAPD is currently following active leads in the death of Michael Lynn Thomas.

“If you have any information regarding this homicide, contact Detective Thomas with the Port Arthur Police Department at 409-983-8639.”

The washateria is open 24 hours a day and does not have gaming machines.

This marks the 13th homicide in the city this year. Of the 13, four others remain unsolved.

They include:

  • Kevin Tran, 25, was fatally shot in the back of the head while on the porch of a home in the 1300 block of Trinity Avenue on Jan. 25. A second victim, Sheldon Polk, was also shot and seriously injured.
  • Kevonn Jeffery Washington, 18, was found shot to death behind Lakeview Palms Apartments, 5200 Gulfway Drive, on March 5. He died from multiple gunshot wounds. He was a senior at Memorial High School and had expected to graduate in June.
  • The highly decomposed body of Kristen Balismo, 31, was found on a secluded road on Pleasure Island’s South Levee Road on June 14.

The victim was found in the middle of a gravel road in an area that is home to alligators, wild dogs and hogs.

Several weeks passed before Balismo, who was from Port Arthur but whose last address was in Orange County, was officially identified.

Justice of the Peace Tom Gillam III said the cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head.

  • Khoa Dang “Kevin” Nguyen, 33, of Nederland was shot multiple times while fishing on Pleasure Island’s North Levee Road and died after wrecking his vehicle trying to leave the island Sept. 29.

Pleasure Island Advisory Board and police recently met with locals to discuss safety measure on the island such the addition of cameras.

Persons with information on this or any other crime are asked to call PAPD at 983-8600 or Crime Stoppers of Southeast Texas at 833-TIPS (8477). You won’t be asked your name and may be eligible for a cash reward. You may also make an anonymous tip to Crime Stoppers by downloading the P3Tips app on your smartphone.