What started off as an assault investigation changed to a homicide investigation when a Wheeling Jesuit University student who was beaten early Saturday morning died in a Pittsburgh hospital Sunday.
Kevin Figaniak, 21, of Perkasie, Pa., near Philadelphia, was pronounced dead at UPMC Presbyterian at 3:05 a.m. Sunday, according to the Allegheny County medical examiner's office. A man who was with him during the beating sustained mild cuts and refused medical treatment.
Wheeling police said they were called to Locust Avenue and National Road, about a mile from the center of the Wheeling Jesuit campus about 1:45 a.m. Saturday to investigate an assault. When they arrived, they found Mr. Figaniak lying unresponsive on the ground with "significant head trauma" and rushed him to Wheeling Hospital, according to a statement from Chief Shawn Schwertfeger.
Mr. Figaniak was transported Saturday evening to UPMC Presbyterian, where school officials said friends and family members surrounded him.
The man who was with Mr. Figaniak, whose name police have not released, told officers that three or four white men in their mid-20s beat the pair. Two of the suspects had brown hair and were wearing blue jeans. A third suspect was wearing a hat.
Police did not release additional information about the suspects on Sunday.
"The Wheeling Police Department is vigorously investigating the incident," Chief Schwertfeger said.
Mr. Figaniak, a senior majoring in business, played on Wheeling Jesuit's varsity lacrosse team and was also a member of the school's club hockey team.
"Today is a difficult day for our campus as we mourn the loss of a member of the Wheeling Jesuit family," school president the Rev. James Fleming said in a statement. "Kevin spent the last three years at Wheeling Jesuit forging friendships, and in his final hours Kevin was surrounded by those friends and family, who, through their love and prayers, brought Kevin home to Jesus."
Wheeling Jesuit held a prayer service for students Saturday evening and dedicated three Masses to him Sunday. Staff members from multiple departments assisted students who wanted counseling, the school said.
Wheeling police, in conjunction with the chief medical examiner in West Virginia and the Ohio County, W.Va., prosecutor's office, continue to investigate the beating. Anyone with information is asked to call the Wheeling police department's main number at 1-304-234-3664 or its detective division at 1-304-234-3781.
Staff writer Karen Kane contributed. Liz Navratil: email@example.com, 412-263-1438 or on Twitter @LizNavratil. First Published September 1, 2013 2:00 PM