Share This Page

Wheeling Jesuit University student dies following fight near campus

| 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 mharris@tribweb.com.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.