Man dies after brawl breaks out at middle school basketball game

Police say Russell Giroux, 60, died at the hospital after the fight took place

Graeme Massie
Los Angeles
Thursday 02 February 2023 20:11 GMT

A grandfather died after a brawl took place between spectators at a middle school basketball game in Vermont.

State police said in a news release that 60-year-old Russell Giroux died after a fight broke out between adults at a school in Alburgh, Vermont, which is near the Canadian border.

Authorities say that officers responded to Alburgh Community Education Center to deal with the “large fight involving multiple spectators” in the game between Alburgh and St Albans City schools.

The fight had already broken up and some of the participants, including Giroux, had already left the gym. Police said that he subsequently sought medical attention and was taken to the hospital by ambulance, where he died.

“The circumstances of his death are under active investigation,” state police said. Authorities have not yet made public what started the fight.

Grand Isle State’s Attorney Doug Disabito, who also lives in Alburgh, told local news WCAX: “In some respects, I’m at a loss for words. This should never happen. Very sad. And it’s because of adults and I’m sad for my community.”

The Chief Medical Examiner’s Office in Burlington conducted an autopsy on Wednesday to determine the cause and manner of his death.

Principal Beth Hemingway, Superintendent Michael Clark and Director of Student Services Nick DeVita wrote in a letter to the school community that “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,”

“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,” he continued.

The Vermont Principals’ Association oversees high school sports in the state.

Executive director Jay Nichols told WCAX he spoke to the referee of the game, who told him he’s not sure what sparked the violence.

“They were reffing the game and the next thing he knew people were out on the court punching each other. There was one person that had blood all over their face, they got a parent to call the police,” Mr Nichols said. “Spectators have an obligation to behave appropriately. Student-athletes are participating in these contests. It’s for educational purposes, it’s not for adult entertainment. We ask all attendees at these events to please behave in an appropriate manner. And if they can’t do so, not only can they be barred from the event, but they can also face criminal charges.”

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