Johnston Little League remembers coach killed in shooting as a devoted father, mentor

JOHNSTON, R.I. (WLNE) — The Johnston Little League is mourning the loss of a devoted friend, coach, and mentor.

Thomas “T.J.” May was killed in a triple shooting on Ligian Court on Wednesday.

One of T.J.’s longtime friends, Michael Orsini, said T.J. was a guy you always wanted to be around.

“He always had a smile on his face, always a fun guy, always willing to help out, he wore his heart on his sleeve,” Orsini told ABC 6 News.

President of the Johnston Little League, Joe Splendorio, said T.J. was an all-around family man as well as a coach.

“There’s not enough T.J.’s around, every league needs a bunch of T.J.’s, just a great person, great character, a great person that you’re going to want coaching your kid,” Splendorio said.

His fellow coaches said on the field, he strived to teach his players good character and amplified the love of baseball.

“It wasn’t about the wins or losses, it was about the relationship he had with the kids, and just keeping them positive, keeping them motivated and really trying to pull the best out of them,” said Orsini.

The community could never have imagined the terror that was to come.

“I was in disbelief, I’m still in disbelief,” said Orsini. “I’m just trying to process this whole thing, like everyone else.”

Police said T.J. reported the night before the shooting that his neighbor, James Harrison, was trying to look into his 15-year-old daughter’s bedroom. He told police he heard “banging noises” and when he pulled the window blinds, he saw his 52-year-old neighbor on a ladder.

Officers responded and were unable to make contact with Harrison.

The next morning, police said Harrison fatally shot his own mother before returning to the May family’s home and shooting T.J. and his daughter. T.J was killed and his daughter is recovering from her injuries.

Harrison was shot and killed by police later that day after leading officers on a chase through Johnston, Providence, and Cranston.

In the wake of tragedy, the league put up T.J.’s team flag at Kennedy Field. Games and practices will be postponed until Tuesday as the league community navigates through their loss.

The league also created a GoFundMe page to support the May family in any way they can.

As of Friday morning, the GoFundMe surpassed its $20,000 goal.


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