W&J pays tribute to slain player
WASHINGTON, Pa. — Students, faculty and staff at Washington & Jefferson College continue to pay their respects to student and star running back Tim McNerney, who was slain during a street robbery early Thursday morning off campus.
McNerney, 21, a Knoch High School graduate and resident of Penn Township, Butler County, was beaten to death in an apparent robbery while walking home from a bar around 2:30 a.m. with a W&J teammate.
His teammate escaped from as many as six assailants, ran to his dormitory at W&J and called police. McNerney's cell phone and wallet were taken.
Washington police Chief Robert Lemons wouldn't say whether investigators had traced McNerney's movements after the attack or comment on whether any property was recovered.
“It's not something we're taking lightly,” Lemons said, “We're doing everything we can to track down what happened.”
Throughout Friday, W&J students signed a banner that was part of a memorial with McNerney's football jersey, photos and flowers in the school cafeteria in The Commons building, according to Robert Reid, the college's communications manager.
Early Friday evening, students, staff and faculty informally gathered for what became a McNerney memorial send-off for the football team's road trip to Kentucky against Thomas More College.
“The mood was somber and focused,” Reid said. “They're looking forward to playing the game and playing it well.”
Head coach Mike Sirianni passed out memorial T-shirts that had an action photo of McNerney. As the coach was thanking the players, Reid said there were hugs between the students and faculty.
The school offered a free bus trip and free tickets to Saturday's football game, according to Reid.
“The college wanted to give Tim's classmates and friends an opportunity to watch his teammates play,” he said.
Also, a prayer service in McNerney's honor was held at the school's chapel on Friday.
Hundreds of students along with McNerney's family and friends held an outdoor vigil Thursday evening at the college.
Back in Jefferson Township at Knoch stadium, the crowd observed a moment of silence in McNerney's honor before their Thursday night football game against Franklin Regional.
McNerney's No. 5 was painted along the Knights' sideline.
Mary Ann Thomas is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4691 or firstname.lastname@example.org.