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Riverhead mourns loss of Blue Waves star linebacker and team captain

Linebacker John Anderson tackles an opponent in October. Photos: Blue Waves Football/Shutterfly

The Riverhead community is wracked with grief today as news spread of the death of a Riverhead High School senior yesterday.

John Anderson, 18, died of an apparent gunshot wound at Reeves Beach yesterday afternoon, Riverhead Police Chief David Hegermiller said. The incident was non-criminal in nature, he said.

Police were called to the scene in the vicinity of the parking lot at the town beach at about 3 p.m., the chief said.

Anderson was a Blue Waves football team captain and one of the team’s key players. The strapping 6-foot-tall star linebacker was seeded eighth this season in Suffolk County Division II. 

“Johnny Anderson lived his life as a man of character and dignity,” Riverhead Blue Waves head coach Leif  Shay said this morning.  “He treated everyone with respect and was highly regarded by his peers.

“He is an integral part of the Riverhead football family and he will be missed,” Shay said.

“There are no words that can fully encapsulate the grief that the entire Riverhead community is feeling in the face of this tragedy,” Riverhead Schools Superintendent Nancy Carney said in an email this morning. “We stand with the Anderson family today in sympathy and sadness.”

Carney said mental health professionals from across the district are standing by to assist students and staff in coping with the loss. The district has also reached out for additional support from outside agencies, she said.

“My heart goes out to the family and the school community in this time of grief,” Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter said. “I would ask everyone to keep them in prayer.”

Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter and editor, an attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including a “writer of the year” award from the N.Y. Press Association in 2015. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website. Email Denise.