Police investigate death of Washington & Jefferson football player
October 4, 2012 3:45 PM
John Heller / Post-Gazette
Denise McNerney, mother of slain Washington & Jefferson football player Tim McNerney, holds a candle at a vigil in front of members of the football team.
Washington & Jefferson senior running back Tim McNerney died of blunt force trauma to the head.
Matt Freed /Post-Gazette
Knoch head coach Michael King leads his team and the crowd in a moment of silence for slain former player Tim McNerney before the start of the game against Franklin Regional Thursday night.
By Moriah Balingit and Liz Navratil Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Washington city police are investigating after a college football player was apparently beaten to death early this morning while walking home from a bar in the city.
Police suspect that Tim McNerney, a 21-year-old senior at Washington & Jefferson, was the victim of a robbery gone awry, Lt. Dan Stanek said during an evening news briefing.
The lieutenant said Mr. McNerney and a friend, 22-year-old Zach DeCicco of Jefferson Hills, were walking home about 2:30 a.m. when a group of as many as six men attacked them near Lombardi's repair shop.
The men demanded cell phones and money and began beating Mr. DeCicco, who fled as fast as he could and lost sight of his friend, police said. Mr. Decicco fled to his dorm, where he and his friends contacted campus police, who then contacted Washington city police at 2:54 a.m.
Security guards and police combed the area where the robbery occurred and did not see Mr. McNerney. When friends passed through later, shortly before 4 a.m., they found Mr. McNerney unresponsive.
Medica took him to the Washington Hospital emergency room, where he was pronounced dead at 4:42 a.m., according to Coroner Tim Warco. The coroner determined during an autopsy that Mr. McNerney died of blunt force trauma to the head and ruled the death a homicide.
Washington police said Mr. McNerney's wounds were to the back of the head and that they do not suspect weapons were used. They said they did not see any signs that Mr. McNerney fought his attackers.
Mr. McNerney, who graduated from Knoch High School in Butler, was a running back on the football team. The high school held a moment of silence for him Thursday night.
His death rattled the campus community, which held a somber candlelight vigil for him tonight.
"The safety of our students, both on and off campus, remains our highest priority," Washington and Jefferson spokeswoman Karen Oosterhous wrote in a news release.
The school is making grief counselors available for students.