| News

Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Wheeling Jesuit University student dies following fight near campus

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.
Wheeling Jesuit University
Wheeling Jesuit University photo of Kevin Figaniak, 21, a senior business major and lacrosse player who died early Sunday in Pittsburgh following an attack on campus.

Daily Photo Galleries

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By Megan Harris
Sunday, Sept. 1, 2013, 2:39 p.m.

A Wheeling Jesuit University student died in Pittsburgh early Sunday, nearly 24 hours after a group attacked him and a friend while they walked toward campus from a nearby bar.

Kevin M. Figaniak, 21, was found unresponsive and admitted to Wheeling Hospital with severe head trauma and later transferred to UPMC Presbyterian in Oakland, where he died about 3:05 a.m. The second, unidentified victim had mild scratches and refused medical treatment, police said.

Sgt. Kevin Kettler said the crime scene is largely residential with a popular bar and restaurant area a block away.

“In an area like that, you're going to get a lot of noise complaints, some loitering complaints, the occasional fight,” Kettler said. “But this is the only time anything serious has happened.”

Figaniak, a senior business major, was a member of the WJU varsity lacrosse team and the university's club hockey team. He was the son of Valerie and Tom Figaniak of Perkasie in Bucks County. Funeral arrangements are pending.

The university held prayer services over the weekend for its 1,500 students. Staff members from residence life, campus ministry, the counseling office and the athletic department are talking with students, providing counseling and support, according to a school statement.

“Kevin spent the last three years at Wheeling Jesuit forging friendships, and in his final hours, Kevin was surrounded by those friends and his family, who, through their love and prayers, brought Kevin home to Jesus,” said the Rev. James Fleming, university president.

Wheeling police Chief Shawn Schwertfeger reported that three or four white men believed to be in their mid-20s assaulted the pair about 1:45 a.m. Saturday. One man wore a hat, and two others had brown hair and wore denim jeans. The group ran off before police arrived.

Police were investigating what happened before the attack.

Officers found Figaniak at Locust Avenue and National Road, less than a quarter-mile from campus and a few blocks from the bars and restaurants on and around Edgington Lane.

Locust leads to a footbridge across Wheeling Creek onto the WJU campus, where university policy states any student may request a security escort 24 hours a day.

According to reports required by the Student Right to Know and Campus Security Act, WJU recorded no on-campus incidents of murder, motor vehicle theft, robbery or aggravated robbery in the past three years. Sexual offenses, thefts and burglaries have risen minimally since 2010, as have arrests for drug and liquor violations.

According to the college's security report, two arrests were made last year for liquor violations out of 164 disciplinary referrals, a decline from 2010 when no arrests were made from 315 referrals.

Kettler said this is the first homicide in Wheeling since 2011.

Wheeling police encourage anyone with information to call Schwertfeger at 304-234-3664 or the detective division at 304-234-3781.

Megan Harris is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5815 or

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.



Show commenting policy

Most-Read Stories

  1. Philadelphia U.S. Rep. Fattah indicted in racketeering case
  2. Rossi: ‘Hockey guy’ Sutter will be missed
  3. Patriots QB Brady, owner Kraft lash out at NFL
  4. Plum High School teacher held for court on charges of intimidation
  5. Kang’s 9th-inning home run gives Pirates wild victory over Twins
  6. Steelers’ Wheaton adjusting his game moving to slot receiver
  7. Pirates notebook: Prospect Tucker unaware of ‘trade’ frenzy
  8. 5 face trial in beating of black man in Pittsburgh
  9. Butler County motorist dies in accident with tractor
  10. Driver accused of crashing head-on into Ligonier officer’s SUV waives right to preliminary hearing
  11. School credit ratings a problem for several in Western Pennsylvania