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Connecticut mourners turned out in droves to honor slain 17-year-old high school lacrosse player James “Jimmy” McGrath at a game Thursday involving two schools with which he had close ties.
A 16-year-old from Milford is in police custody in connection to a Saturday fight that left McGrath dead and three other teens injured, according to authorities.
McGrath lived in Shelton but attended Fairfield College Preparatory School, a nearby Catholic school, where he was a junior. His older sister, Rosie, is a senior at Shelton.
Before the game, their parents walked out to the center of Finn Stadium behind Shelton High School for a solemn ceremony.
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Kevin McGrath, the teen’s father, addressed the crowd, which wore a sea of light blue instead of each team’s colors.
“Rosie and I appreciate everything this community has done.,” he said. “This is a day to celebrate Jimmy’s life.”
Maggie McGrath, the victim’s mother, held back tears on several occasions during her husband’s speech.
As the announcer introduced each team’s starting lineup, players on both teams approached the parents, gave them each hugs and then trotted back to the sidelines.
The game got off to a fiery start, with FP scoring 13 unanswered goals in the first half.
Off field, Tony Gandalfo told Fox News Digital his son Peter was among McGrath’s Fairfield Prep teammates. He said he knew the teen, who had friends on both teams, and was still processing the tragedy.
“Often times at a tragedy you really see the beautiful side of being part of a community like you have here,” he said. “I’m so happy to see that it’s not just the Fairfield Prep community, but Shelton and other communities that have reached out to show support. It’s unfortunate it takes a tragedy to see how much love is out there. But there’s a lot.”
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Residents of numerous surrounding communities turned out in support, including Stamford to the west and nearby New Haven.
“Jimmy was just the type of kid that everyone liked,” Gandalfo said.
His funeral is scheduled for Friday after a Mass at St. Theresa Church in Trumbull, according to an online obituary.
“Jim was born on December 18, 2004 and was always a positive, loving and caring person. Many described Jim as a wonderfully happy person with a big heart who was a loving friend to many. He loved his school, Fairfield Prep, and he excelled as an athlete in every sport he chose. He played football and lacrosse for Fairfield Prep and as a youth for Shelton and Connecticut Wolves as well,” the obituary says. “He understood the meaning of being part of a team.”
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Shelton Printing, a local business, donated some shirts, according to an announcement over the loudspeaker.
The Shelton Detective Bureau is still actively investigating McGrath’s killing and encouraging anyone with information about the incident to call the Shelton Police Department at 203-924-1544