An Atlantic City man who worked for the city’s Public Works Department was found dead inside his Westside home Friday morning.
Thomas Polk, 49, is the city’s 16th homicide victim this year, a total approaching a recent high of 18 set in 2006.
Polk, known as Tommy to his friends, had just lost his wife, Dale Bailey-Polk, two months ago.
“Basically, he was still grieving over his wife,” co-worker Tyron Muhammad said as he stood outside police tape at North Ohio and Ontario avenues while investigators worked inside Polk’s home. “It was a tragic end.”
Family members said Polk was supposed to work a security job Thursday night but never showed up. When they went to check on him about 3:30 a.m., he didn’t seem to be home. But when a friend returned about 8 a.m., he found Polk dead inside.
Acting Atlantic County Prosecutor Jim McClain would not say exactly how Polk died, but his office did confirm Polk was shot multiple times.
“We are working diligently to solve this case,” McClain said.
No motive or suspect information has been released.
Dawn Bailey, Polk’s stepdaughter, said Polk’s Jeep Cherokee was missing. McClain said he couldn’t comment on reports that the Jeep had been found abandoned in Mays Landing.
The rowhouse fronts the 1000 block of Ohio Avenue, but investigators worked from the back of the home, which seemed to be where entry had been made.
Halbert Coursey said the backdoor bolt locks were broken and Polk had been using a stick to keep it closed. Coursey planned to come over to fix it Thursday.
“He was supposed to call me when he got off work today,” he said. “And look what happened.”
The two grew up together in Atlantic City.
“I was born and raised with that boy,” Coursey said, shaking his head. “Unbelievable. It’s unbelievable.”
Friends remembered Polk as a friendly man who had just started working full time for the city after a few years as a seasonal employee.
Mayor Lorenzo Langford, who lives nearby, stopped at the scene Friday morning but said it wasn’t the time to comment.
“(The mayor) gave that man that job,” Muhammad said. “He earned the job, but (Langford) gave him a chance.”
Friends at the scene indicated that there had been some problems in his past. Press of Atlantic City articles show Polk had previous arrests for drugs and burglaries, the last in 2001, when he and a previous co-defendant were arrested in a casino burglary four years after a string of burglaries that led to prison time.
“Tommy was a hard worker,” said friend Larry Wilson. “He would speak to anybody. He would help anybody. It’s just a sad, sad occasion.”
As investigators from the prosecutor’s Major Crimes Unit and Atlantic City Police Department worked, children ran happily into the Martin Luther King Jr. Complex just two blocks away.
“I’m still in shock,” said Dawn Bailey, whose mother married Polk in July 2011. “I can’t believe it.”
A picture of Polk on his wife’s Facebook page says, “I love this man.”
The two were very close, friends said, with birthdays just a week apart. They would throw a party and have everyone over.
“We just went skating together two weeks ago,” said Fareed Abdullah, who was shocked when he learned his friend had died. “I can’t believe this. He was just a good guy.”
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