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Police seek culprit who uprooted tree planted in memory of Nolan Burch

Amherst officials are seeking the culprit who uprooted a memorial tree that was planted for Amherst teen who died from alcohol poisoning in 2014.

The tree, planted last fall in Brierhurst Park in honor of West Virginia University freshman Nolan M. Burch, was discovered ripped from the ground on Wednesday morning.

Dan Riley, Amherst Parks & Forestry general crew chief, said graffiti also was found at the memorial site and the tag or signature used by the perpetrator has been identified from the databank of the Regional Anti-Graffiti Task Force. Meanwhile, the desecrated tree has since been replanted. “It was replanted (Wednesday), but we went back (Thursday), made the hole larger, put mulch in the hole and staked it,” Riley said.

We’re hoping it survives, but if it doesn’t we’ll have to wind up putting a new tree in during the fall planting,” he added.

Riley said the town’s landscape architect administers the memorial tree program at Brierhurst Park.

“So he was largely responsible for the location of that tree and the nursery that was used,” said Riley. “It’s a private tree, in effect. The people who buy these trees, they pay for the trees.”

Nolan, a Canisius High School graduate from Amherst, died after drinking an extreme amount of liquor in November 2014 during a fraternity event at West Virginia University, where he was a student.