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SHELTON, Conn. – Connecticut lacrosse player James McGrath was fatally stabbed in the heart outside a high school party in Shelton last week, according to an arrest warrant obtained by Fox News on Friday,
Raul Eliah Valle, 16, of Milford, has been charged with one count of murder and two counts of first-degree assault for allegedly stabbing McGrath, 17, and others during a May 14 fight outside a house party with about 50 attendees. Valle is a student at St. Joseph High School in Trumbull, a high school near Fairfield College Preparatory School, where McGrath was a junior.
“They were very friendly. The kids are polite and respectful,” Valle’s neighbor told Fox News Digital of the suspect and his family. “This is hard to believe.”
A representative from St. Joseph’s told Fox News Digital that Valle was in good academic standing and had not been in any fights at school before the May 14 incident.
Police responded to “several 911 calls regarding a fight” that occurred just before midnight on Saturday outside the party on Laurel Glenn Drive in Shelton and found multiple victims on the front lawn. The owner of the residence where the party took place was home at the time of the incident, according to the warrant.
“Multiple witnesses reported that three to four people who were not invited to the party arrived and exited a dark colored Honda SUV,” the report says. “Witnesses further stated that when the parties exited the vehicle a physical altercation with multiple male participants took place on the front lawn.”
At one point, there were about 25 people engaged in the fight on the front lawn of the residence, witnesses told police. At least three juvenile suspects are mentioned in the report. One is accused of bearing a knife.
At least four victims, including McGrath, were stabbed.
“[T]here was one stab wound to the left side of the chest” the warrant states. “The stab wound went through the rib and heart.”
A doctor from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of Connecticut told police that there was approximately 1.8 liters of blood in McGrath’s lungs.
The three other victims sustained injuries during the fight. One officer described seeing “numerous pools of blood” and various personal belongings on the front lawn following the altercation.
The warrant further states that several of the stabbing victims got into an altercation with the suspects at another party on Lazy Brook Road in Shelton earlier that night. The suspects, whom witnesses described as St. Joe’s students, later arrived at the party on Laurel Glenn. Shelton High School students were also present at the party on Lazy Brook Road, another witness told police.
That same witness told police that her sister gave Valle a ride home after the fight on Laurel Glenn Drive, though he did not mention the altercation during the ride home. When she heard about the stabbing later on and texted Valle about it, he denied that he had stabbed anyone, the warrant states.
Defense attorney Jake Donovan, who is representing Valle, told reporters outside a Derby courtroom on Friday that he is refraining from comment until he is able to “examine all of the evidence in the case.”
“Obviously, this is an unspeakable tragedy for everyone involved,” he said.
The next hearing in the case is scheduled for June 7.
A wake for McGrath is being held Friday in Fairfield. An obituary for McGrath describes the 17-year-old as the “sunshine” of his parents’ life and his sister’s “best friend and confidant.”
“Jim as a wonderfully happy person with a big heart who was a loving friend to many,” the obituary states. “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. He understood the meaning of being part of a team.”
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.
Fox News’ Marta Dhanis and Danielle Wallace contributed to this report.