(ALBURGH, Vt.) — A 60-year-old man died after a brawl broke out between spectators at a middle school basketball game in Vermont, according to state police.
The fight occurred shortly before 7 p.m. local time Tuesday at a school in Alburgh, located near the Canadian border, according to Vermont State Police.
State police responded to the Alburgh Community Education Center following the report of a “large fight involving multiple spectators” during a boys middle school basketball game, state police said in a release.
Alburgh school officials confirmed there was a “physical altercation between multiple adults” attending the game between Alburgh and St. Albans City Schools.
The “melee” had ended by the time troopers arrived and some of the participants had already left the school, including Russell Giroux, police said.
Giroux, of Alburgh, subsequently sought medical attention and was transported via ambulance to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead, police said.
“The circumstances of his death are under active investigation,” state police said, adding that they are working with the Grand Isle County state’s attorney on the case.
The Chief Medical Examiner’s Office in Burlington will conduct an autopsy to determine the cause and manner of his death, police said.
School officials with the Grand Isle Supervisory Union, which includes Alburgh, called the incident “tragic.”
“Our immediate goal is to remind and educate our students and families that our school culture is one of family, community, and kindness. We need our students and community to commit to the positive culture that our school community expects and deserves,” Principal Beth Hemingway, Superintendent Michael Clark and Director of Student Services Nick DeVita wrote in a letter to the school community. “We commend the coaches and players of both teams as well as the Alburgh and St. Albans City staff in attendance who supported the students.”
School officials said they have arranged support for students and staff.
The superintendent of Maple Run Unified School District, which includes the opposing school, St. Albans, said the school community is “shocked and saddened” by the death and is also working to offer students support.
“Since our students observed the altercation, we are working in the next days to support our students and families in dealing with the consequences of the altercation and Mr. Giroux’s death,” Superintendent Bill Kimball said in a statement. “The Maple Run Unified School District condemns the violence that occurred during the basketball game. We expect better from our communities.”
“The tragic events that preceded Mr. Giroux’s death have caused our schools to evaluate school programs and community involvement,” the statement continued.
The Vermont Principals’ Association, which oversees school sports in the state, said it has “no substantiated information as to what occurred.”
“Although we can not speak specifically about the events at this individual game, we would like to once again emphasize that middle and high school sports are educational and are for the benefit of the student-athletes,” Jay Nichols, executive director of the organization, said in a statement. “Spectators that cannot behave appropriately can be barred from events and can face criminal charges. We ask all attendees at these events to please behave in an appropriate manner.”
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