Jul. 23—Tyler Sitar gave it his all each time he took the field as a Dunmore High School soccer player.
Now, the team and his former teammates hope to reciprocate.
A charity soccer game scheduled for 6 p.m. today at the high school will see the varsity soccer team face-off against a team of Dunmore soccer alumni to help raise money to benefit the 22-year-old's family, after he died Friday night from a gunshot wound.
"Tyler was very close to the program, very close to some of the alumni that are hanging around with us now," said Dunmore coach Tom Clark. "We want to honor him and his family."
Sitar suffered a fatal wound when an AR-15 was discharged by a friend at a Williams Street home during a birthday party, police charged. The shooter, identified in a criminal complaint as Luigi Lorusso, told borough Detective Alicia Hallinan he and Sitar — a close friend of his from the military — planned to go shooting Saturday and the gun went off as he moved it with Sitar nearby.
Before he died, Sitar told police the shooting was an accident.
Lorusso, 23, of Shoemakersville, was free Thursday after posting 10% of $500,000 bail. He has a preliminary hearing tentatively scheduled 11:45 a.m. Monday on charges of aggravated assault, recklessly endangering another person and simple assault.
A member of the military with a working knowledge of weapons, Lorusso removed the magazine from the firearm but never checked to make sure the chamber was empty and did not put the safety on, according to an affidavit.
Pottsville attorney Sudhir Patel, who is representing Lorusso, said his client is "devastated" by what had happened, adding Lorusso and Sitar were "very, very close" and said his prayers were with Sitar's family. He declined to comment further since the case is still pending and additional charges might be filed.
Lackawanna County District Attorney Mark Powell said charges against him may be amended pending the results of toxicological tests.
Sitar's death reverberated through the community and shocked his loved ones.
A GoFundMe campaign set up by his cousin, Kyli Gibbon, to defray funeral expenses quickly raised more than $27,000 before new donations were disabled because the fundraising goal was reached. In a post, Gibbon wrote the strong response is a testament to Sitar's character and the impact he's had on others.
Noah Barton, 20, of Dunmore, played soccer with Sitar while they were in high school. The two became fast friends — something Sitar could do with ease with nearly anyone. Sitar served in the U.S. Marine Corps, where he thrived, according to an obituary, rising to the rank of lance corporal.
Barton said they kept in touch and continued to hang out together after he returned from basic training.
Barton broke into tears when he heard the news Sitar had died, not wanting to believe it.
To help Sitar's family, Barton and several other Dunmore soccer alumni helped organize an exhibition game between alumni and the team's current roster — which had already been planned as a practice match. Barton is helping coach the alumni.
They're hoping to raise cash and electronic donations during the game in a separate fundraiser. Electronic donations can be made through through Venmo to the handle @Bobbi-DeNapoli, who Barton said is a friend's mother he reached out to help spread the word and collect donations.
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