MANCHESTER CT Jan 5 2017
A beloved Connecticut high school security officer died suddenly today after reporting to work at the Manchester high School where he has worked for eighteen years.
Barry "Mitch" Mitchell died of an apparent heart attack according shortly after arriving at school according to officials.
Students, some viably upset, were allowed to leave school early.
Mitchell, well known and well liked, knew generations of students and parents and was always willing to listen or lend a hand in any situation.
"Over his career," School Superintendent Matt Geary said, "he interacted with literally thousands of students and often had to tell them things that they didn't want to hear – to get back in line in the cafeteria, or to hurry to class, or to show him a hall pass.
"That sort of role doesn't always make you popular, but students universally liked and respected Mitch because he treated everyone with patience and dignity."
Mitchell, 53, arrived at the school at about 6:45 a.m. and collapsed outside, said police Sgt. James Bairos, supervisor of school resource officers. Paramedics took him to Manchester Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Mitchell was the father of two young children who attended local schools, district communications director Jim Farrell said.
Mayor Jay Moran said he and his three children, who all graduated from Manchester High School, knew Mitchell well.
"He was more than a security guard," Moran said. "He was a cheerleader. He was a surrogate parent. He was a disciplinarian when he needed to be."
Police Officer Bernie Hallums said Mitchell was a big, powerfully built man, a "larger than life guy with a heart of gold."
Geary described Mitchell as "an overall great guy who would do anything for anyone at any time.
"We are grateful for all Mitch did to impact the lives of so many students and staff," the superintendent said, "and our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this time."