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.

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