Suspect identified for April’s fatal 2nd Street shooting

Calvin Nichols Jr. was identified as the suspected shooter in the shooting that killed Joseph Craig Thomas Jr. on April 3. Photo courtesy of George Schroeder.

By Rachel Royster | Editor-in-Chief

Calvin Nichols Jr. was identified by the Waco Police Department Friday as the suspected shooter in the shooting that left Joseph Craig Thomas Jr. (24) dead on April 3 at the 2300 block of 2nd Street.

The shooting occurred early that Sunday morning at a Baylor student-athlete’s home, where members of the acrobatics and tumbling team hosted an after-party to celebrate their victory the day before. Thomas had entered the party uninvited with a gun when the suspect began arguing with him and subsequently opened fire on Thomas.

According to the Waco PD press release, Nichols was served a warrant for the murder of Thomas on Thursday while in custody at the Harris County Jail.

“[Nichols] was arrested on unrelated charges in Houston on June 5, 2022, and will be extradited to McLennan County Jail,” the press release reads.

Malibu, Calif., senior Graham White, a friend of the victim, said when he first saw the news, he didn’t know his friend had been killed. Once he found out, White said he and his friends were left with a series of question marks around the whole situation, so he sought more information.

“Based on the report, I’m like, ‘There’s no way that was him,’” White said. “That’s not like him to do something like that. And just the way they reported it seemed like there’s details missing. That’s what kind of got me investigating the whole thing myself; I just had to know, you know, what happened.”

White called Waco PD, which gave him the detective’s extension. After White left him a message, he said the detective called back saying they had footage of the scene.

“That was relieving because I know now they’re on the case,” White said. “Because really, when it first happened, it was very quiet. You know, all the news reports went out, and then we didn’t really hear anything after that. It was kind of alarming that nothing was being said, and I wanted information. Then having the detective telling me that there was a video of the incident and that they were on it still doing something about it … was comforting to know.”

Through this experience, White said he trusts the court system and is thankful the detective stayed diligent through the case.

“However the trial goes, just knowing that the person didn’t get away is comforting,” White said. “There’s a lot of times cases like this have just dropped because they don’t have evidence.”

San Antonio junior John Gierat said when he first heard about the incident, he was shocked by its proximity to campus.

“As a college student, you want to be able to be safe wherever you’re staying and to feel a sense of protection no matter where you are,” Gierat said. “But it’s scary that even in your own home, you may not be safe, especially if you’re just having a gathering of people trying to celebrate something great that happened. It’s just scary that something like that can happen in somebody’s own home, especially in a college town where parents are going to send the students off and they’re not going to be there for them.”

After hearing that there is a warrant for the suspected shooter’s arrest, Gierat said he feels safer but is still uneasy.

“Now somebody who could potentially harm another person is off the street, which is good for college students,” Gierat said. “But yet again, stuff like this, even in recent events, it’s happened more than it should. And unfortunately, it will keep happening if we don’t have more safety in the community.”

Gierat said the situation has given him a sense of caution.

“It’s made me sort of realize I have to be more aware of my surroundings, especially if I’m in a large gathering of people,” Gierat said. “I need to make sure there’s no one who is sort of acting out of place. I want to make sure I’m safe and that other people are safe too.”

Two months after the shooting, White said he and Thomas’ friends continue to miss him.

“The way the news reported the whole situation just made [him] look kind of like a bad guy, but I want to say that if you knew the guy, he was a light in the room,” White said. “He walked in, and whatever he said, everybody would start laughing. He just knew how to make people laugh — such a funny guy. I want that to be known about him. The guy was smart too. He was wise. He had a lot of information to give to people. He taught me a lot of things. I’m really thankful for that, and I want that to be known.”