Investigators urge possible witnesses in W&J student's death to come forward

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WASHINGTON, Pa. - Washington police are continuing their investigation into the death of a former Knoch High School football star, who was a senior running back at Washington & Jefferson College.

Investigators said 21-year-old Tim McNerney was found unresponsive off campus near the intersection of College and Maiden streets early Oct. 4. Police said he later died at a nearby hospital.

Police said McNerney’s death is considered suspicious, and the investigation is ongoing.

Channel 11’s Alan Jennings reported McNerney was beaten, and witnesses told him they think robbery was the motive.

On Wednesday, investigators said they believe fewer than five people were involved in the beating. They also said they’ve narrowed the time frame to 2:20 a.m. to 2:30 a.m.

According to police, surveillance video indicates there was foot traffic along East Maiden Street around the time McNerney was attacked. Authorities are urging anyone who may have witnessed anything to come forward.

“With these type of street crimes, there is bragging and we think they may have been talking more freely about this the first day of the incident because they didn’t realize Mr. McNerney was deceased,” Washington police Lt. San Stanek said.

Paige Deley told Jennings she was with McNerney the night before he was killed.

“It’s so weird because I was just hanging out with him last night. We were all just having a good time. No one really knew about it until this morning. Everyone is really upset,” Deley said. “Not only me, but the whole campus feels really down today. I don’t know if it’s because it’s such a small school, but I feel like we’re all so interconnected.”

McNerney was a senior and a member of the college's football team. 

McNerney was also a star player of the Knoch High School football team when he attended school there.

McNerney holds Knoch’s all-time rushing record of 2,842 yards, which he accomplished in less than three seasons of playing.

McNerney was also a former Class AAA first-team all-state selection by The Associated Press.

“He was a good guy,” said Seth Montgomery, a Knoch graduate now living in Beaver Falls. “He got along with everybody. He was a genuine guy.”

Jason Davidek, board secretary for the South Butler School District, issued a press release Friday: “Active in school activities and athletics, Tim was a positive influence on friends, classmates and fellow teammates. The district requests privacy and respect for Tim’s family during this sensitive time.”

Washington & Jefferson College officials released a statement saying, "The Washington & Jefferson College community is deeply saddened to learn of the death this morning of senior Tim McNerney of Butler, Pa. The campus community is heartbroken, and our deepest prayers are with Tim's family and friends. The College is supporting the police as they continue their investigation. The safety of our students, both on and off campus, remains our highest priority. We will all grieve this loss tremendously. Grief counseling is available to students. The campus will come together very soon to honor Tim; we will provide details of that event as soon as possible."