A 60-year-old man died following a brawl that broke out on Tuesday night in the town of Alburgh during a middle school basketball game, Vermont State Police (VST) said in a statement Wednesday.
Russell Giroux was taken by ambulance to Northwestern Medical Center in St. Albans where he was pronounced dead, VST said.
“The circumstances of his death are under active investigation,” the statement read.
“Mr. Giroux’s body will be brought to the Chief Medical Examiner’s Office in Burlington for an autopsy to determine the cause and manner of his death,” it added.
The statement from VST indicated Giroux participated in a large fight that involved multiple spectators during a 7th-8th grade boys basketball game between Alburgh and St. Albans. Alburgh is located approximately one hour north of Burlington.
Troopers were called at around 7 p.m. to the Alburgh Community Education Center. By the time they arrived, the brawl was over and some of the participants left the school, VST said.
“This investigation is in its earliest stages and involves members of the Vermont State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigations, Field Force Division and Victim Services Unit,” VST added.
“The state police is working with Grand Isle County State’s Attorney Doug DiSabito on this case.”
According to CNN affiliate WCAX, Grand Isle State’s Attorney Doug DiSabito said police are gathering video footage and information about who was there.
“In some respects, I’m at a loss for words. This should never happen,” said DiSabito, according to WCAX.
“Very sad. And it’s because of adults and I’m sad for my community.”
School officials released statements on Wednesday expressing their shock over Giroux’s death and condemned the violence that took place.
“The Maple Run Unified School District condemns the violence that occurred during the basketball game,” Maple Run Unified School District said in a Wednesday statement.
“We expect better from our communities. Fighting and violence are wholly inconsistent with the behaviors we encourage and support.
“We always seek to foster a positive learning environment in school and at school events for our students.
“The tragic events that preceded Mr. Giroux’s death have caused our schools to evaluate school programs and community involvement.”
The district said it informed school staff of the incident and is working to support students and families, “dealing with the consequences of the altercation and Mr. Giroux’s death.”
The district said it urges the Agency of Education and the Vermont Principal’s Association to consider how to best respond to unruly spectators following a spate of bad behavior.
In a letter addressed to the Alburgh community on Wednesday, the Grand Isle Supervisory Union said its “immediate goal is to remind and educate our students and families that our school culture is one of family, community, and kindness.”
“In order to best support the students and staff of the Alburgh Community Education Center, the GISU has arranged for additional support, if needed, with our regional partners to be available throughout the day.”