NEW ORLEANS -- New Orleans police identified a man they say killed a Gretna Police officer on Bourbon Street two months ago.
Detectives said a Facebook page was 'extremely helpful' in their investigation, and the victim's family members said it's been a tremendous source of comfort for them.
It happened in an instant. One punch killed 28-year-old Gretna Police detective Brett Thomas.
'It was a one in a ten million punch that did it. It was staying at a bar another two minutes, maybe this wouldn't have happened,' said Jerry Lacour, Thomas' step-dad.
Surveillance video shows Thomas tried to intervene two months ago when things started getting heated between his friends and another group of men on Bourbon Street.
'It didn't actually happen with the group that was on there. It was somebody that just came out of nowhere and punched him in the back of the head which was a one in a ten million shot to sever the brain stem like they did,' said Michele Lacour, Thomas' mother.
New Orleans police have identified 20-year-old Joshua Miner as the man they suspect of throwing the fatal punch. They identified him with the help of a Facebook page called 'Justice for Brett Thomas.'
'I never have looked at Facebook before this in my life. Now, I'm on it everyday. I look at everything everyone says. It's unbelievable,' said Brooke Thomas, the victim's sister.
'It's been helpful in a lot of our investigations,' said NOPD Detective Danny McMullen.
NOPD Superintendent Ronal Serpas said using social media is becoming an important part of policing, both in investigations and for community alerts.
'We've invested in a lot of recent training using Twitter and Facebook and other social media to communicate,' said NOPD Superintendent Ronal Serpas.
According to social media expert Victor Canada, with NXT Media, the world is just scratching the surface of what social media is used for.
'What's interesting about social media is that some sites like Facebook, despite the fact that they're not anonymous, there is a certain privacy associated with it, where someone could come forward to law enforcement and not have to fear that people are going to know that they're the ones who came forward,' Canada said.
That may be what happened in the murder of Brett Thomas.
'I can't picture my childhood without him, and now I have to picture the rest of my life without him and I don't want to,' Brooke Thomas said through tears.
And although family members are relieved police have a suspect, it's still difficult for them.
'Now, having a suspect makes it all very real again and so it's very, very hard and very, very painful for us,' Jerry Lacour said.
'I hope this person turns himself in. I hope he has lost somebody in his life that he can relate to how we're feeling right now,' Michele Lacour said.
Police are looking for 20-year-old Joshua Miner. If you have any information on his whereabouts, call Crimestoppers at 822-1111. You could be eligible for a $10,000 cash reward.
Thomas' friends also put Crimestoppers posters that people were printing out on his Facebook page.
It's not just teenagers accessing the Facebook and Twitter. Experts say the fastest growing group of people using social media is women between the ages of 55 and 65.