A Eufaula man who played running back just a few seasons ago for the EHS Tigers died Saturday night after reportedly being sucker-punched by a former high school classmate at a Phenix City residence.
Thomas Jackson died after being taken to Jack Hughston Memorial Hospital in Phenix City after being discovered by paramedics with a head injury and was unresponsive. He was transported to Piedmont Regional in Columbus, Georgia, and placed on life support at the hospital, but never regained consciousness and was pronounced dead at the hospital on Sunday.
In a news release, Phenix City Police said they had arrested Michael Mayo, also of Eufaula, on Monday on warrants charging him for the murder of Jackson.
The incident took place at 4506 Windermere Court. Police were reportedly called to the scene initially for shots fired at 6:20 p.m. on May 25, but during their investigation it was determined there had been a physical altercation.
One Columbus media report said Jackson was the victim of a “sucker punch.” WLTZ said both Mayo and Jackson were attending a party. A Russell County Prosecutor told the TV station that both men had been involved with a woman.
Reportedly, Mayo approached Jackson from behind and hit him with a closed fist. Jackson then hit his head when he fell.
Jackson and Mayo had been classmates together at Eufaula High School just a few years ago.
Former Eufaula High School Principal Steve Hawkins, now the executive director of the Eufaula Barbour County Chamber of Commerce, said Jackson was often called “Smiley.”
“(Jackson) was just one of those kids that was always smiling, to the extent that it was contagious,” Hawkins said. “Every time I saw him in the halls he was smiling.”
Jackson’s former high school coach, Bryan Moore, said on a social media site that Jackson will be remembered for “his toughness and drive as a running back, but most of all, will remember his smile and incredible personality.”
Mayo’s pre-bond was set at $50,000. He appeared before a judge Wednesday morning. Mayo reportedly posted bond.