Vermont man dies after brawl during middle school basketball game


A 60-year-old man died this week shortly after participating in a fight that broke out at a middle school basketball game, Vermont State Police said Wednesday.

Russell Giroux of Alburgh, Vt., was said to have been taken to a hospital in St. Albans City, Vt., where he passed away. According to VST, his body will be taken to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Burlington to determine the cause and manner of his death.

Police described Giroux as a participant in a fight that occurred Tuesday after attendees stormed the court during a seventh-/eighth-grade game between Alburgh and St. Albans City. According to VST, police were called to the Alburgh Community Education Center just before 7 pm for “reports of a large fight involving a number of spectators”. When officials arrived, the match was over and some of the contestants, including Giroux, had left. He then sought medical attention, and an ambulance took him to the hospital.

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According to Burlington station WCAX, video of the incident showed at least two players getting into a fight, along with more than a dozen adults.

The executive director of the Vermont Principals’ Association, Jay Nichols, told WCAX that game officials are not sure why the fight started.

“They were reffing the game, and the next thing he knew people were out on the court punching each other,” Nichols said. “There was someone with blood all over their face. They had a parent call the police.”

Officials at the schools involved shared their dismay at the incident and urged better behavior from community members.

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“The Maple Run Unified School District condemns the violence that occurred during the basketball game,” said a statement issued by the St. Albans City. “We expect better from our communities. Fighting and violence are completely inconsistent with the behaviors we encourage and support. We always seek to foster a positive learning environment at school and in the school event for our students. The tragic events that preceded Mr. Giroux’s death have caused our schools to review school programs and community involvement.”

St. added Albans City that it is providing supportive measures for students and expressed concern about a “recent spate of spectator misconduct at school sporting events across Vermont.” At one point, a state school district said it was indefinitely banning attendees from its boys basketball games while it looked into an allegation of a “racially charged remark” directed at a player, as well as other “negative interactions between adult fans” and high school athletes after spectators allegedly stormed the court following a game.

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On Wednesday, the Grand Isle Supervisory Union said of the Alburgh incident: “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 our school community expects and deserves.”

Multiple law enforcement agencies are investigating the fight and Giroux’s death, and police said they are interested in speaking with anyone with information.


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