GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Family and friends of murder victim Michael Surber gathered at Skeeter's Billiards in Gulfport to celebrate his life Wednesday. It was the last place he was seen before police found him murdered in his Ocean Springs home last Thursday.
For family and friends, the focus wasn't on what happened to Surber, but rather how he lived doing what he loved.
"He was a wonderful person, he was fun to be around," Glen Kelly remembered of his friend Michael Surber.
"It's funny because if you couldn't find Michael, he was down in the basement playing pool," his sister, Hebe Wiseman, said.
It was a game he loved, family members say, from the time he was a child.
"By the time he was 14 years old, he was playing adults for money and winning," said his brother, Steve Surber.
Michael Surber went on to become a national-level tournament player, placing among the top finishers in the 2007 Derby City Classic.
"He was great pool player. The first time I ever saw him play I was just fascinated by his abilities," Kelly said.
But, it's not just the plays on the pool table his friends remember. It's the generosity Surber showed them that left a lasting impression.
"He won $900 dollars, and I lost $300," his friend Andrew McLean remembered. "On the way home, he said, 'Andy. how'd you do?' I said, 'I lost $300.' At a stop light, he pulled $300 out and said, 'Thanks for coming with me.'"
"It's amazing how many people's lives he touched here. None of us had any idea," Wiseman said.
Though it was tragic how his life ended, those who knew and loved Surber say they'll remember him as the man with a stick in his hand a passion for pool in his heart.
Before meeting at Skeeter's, family and friends gathered for a memorial service at Bradford-O'Keefe Funeral Home. The family has asked people to make donations to the Make-A-Wish foundation, in lieu of flowers.
Police say they do have a person of interest in the case, Jericho Cooper. A surveillance photo showed Cooper as the last person seen with Surber before he was found dead in his Ocean Springs home last week.
Police describe Cooper as a white man in his late 40s or mid 50s. He's about six feet tall, weighs 185 pounds, and usually wears his receding hair pulled back in a ponytail, that falls just below the collar.
They ask anyone with information to call their local law enforcement agency.