Damarlon Thomas, a 31-year-old former gang member, was executed by gunmen who police say targeted him specifically at the halfway house on Monday night.
Police say two masked men armed with assault rifles entered the Bannum Place Federal Corrections Halfway House in Saginaw with the intention to kill the former Sunny Side gang member.
One of the men rounded up a group of about two dozen halfway house residents and held them at gunpoint while the other man located and shot Thomas several times.
Thomas was pronounced dead at the scene. None of the other residents were harmed.
“This was a very targeted individual, for whatever reason,” Lt. David Kaiser told the Saginaw News. “The people that shot this man knew who they were looking for and wanted him deceased.”
Thomas was sentenced to 19 years in prison in 2008 on a cocaine charge, according to CBSDetroit.
He attended college on a football scholarship for one year. Friends say he was not a hardcore gang banger.
“He was just happy to be free and have a second chance at life,” said Carla Robinson, who grew up with Thomas. “I actually talked to him even more before he came home. He was just focused on coming home. Before he even knew about the situation with Obama, he remained, ‘I’ll be home one day.’”
Obama pardoned Thomas on November 22, along with 79 other prisoners. He was sent to the halfway house to ease his transition back into the community.
“This is his neighborhood and it would have been an easy transition back into society, back home here,” Kaiser said.
Thomas was scheduled for release in May.