CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Authorities in Greenbrier County said a man is facing additional charges after a White Sulphur Springs man he allegedly pushed down a flight of stairs died Tuesday.
Lewisburg Police Chief Tim Stover said Ira Lindberg Harris, 23, of White Sulphur Springs, died from injuries sustained after he was pushed down a flight of stairs by Antonio Dewayne Smith, 34, of Wheeling.
Harris was as an entertainer at the Greenbrier Resort and Casino and taught an after-school program with the Greenbrier Valley Theater.
According to a criminal complaint filed in Greenbrier County Magistrate Court, Lewisburg Police Officer J.D. Hughes responded to a call made Sunday morning from the Irish Pub on Washington Street in Lewisburg. The caller said a man had fallen down a flight of stairs outside the pub, the criminal complaint said.
Hughes found Harris unresponsive and bleeding "very badly" at the bottom of the stairs, according to the criminal complaint. Paramedics arrived a short time later and gave Harris CPR before transporting him to Greenbrier Valley Medical Center.
Two eyewitnesses told Hughes that Smith and Harris got into a verbal argument about racial remarks, the criminal compliant said. The altercation then allegedly became more physical.
Harris tried to walk away from the altercation, but Smith pushed Harris from behind, causing him to fall down the stairs, the criminal complaint said.
Harris was later transported to the CAMC General Hospital's Intensive Care Unit before succumbing to his injuries Tuesday.
Police charged Smith with malicious wounding Sunday and he is currently being held in the Southern Regional Jail on a $75,000 cash-only bail.
Greenbrier County Prosecuting Attorney Patrick I. Via said additional charges would be filed against Smith in wake of Harris' death, but he would not elaborate.
"The investigation is still ongoing," Via said. "This case became one involving very serious injuries to one in which a person has died."
If Harris' death is ruled a homicide, it will be the first in Lewisburg since the 1970s, Stover said.
Cathey Sawyer, artistic director at the Greenbrier Valley Theater, said Harris' after-school class is devastated by news of his death.
All four of the children's' productions this spring will be dedicated in his memory.
"It's what the children wanted," Sawyer said.
Sawyer said Harris started working with the resort's theater group in September. Harris participated in a Christmas play and '50s Revue, according to Harris' YouTube profile.
"We all loved him. He was just a beautiful spirit," Sawyer said. "He just lit up the room when he came in. He was always funny, always positive. It's a great loss."
Sawyer said her theater set up a memorial fund to help Harris' family pay for funeral expenses.
Before coming to West Virginia, Harris held a position as a resident actor for Charleston Stage in Charleston, S.C.
Harris also taught a large class of children there and made a point to stay in touch with them after moving, said Marybeth Clark, associate artistic director for Charleston Stage.
Clark said the children plan on making drawings, taking photos and writing letters to deliver to Harris' funeral service next week.
"He carried that joy everywhere he went and he was really good at recognizing who needed it -- especially with the kids who needed more attention," Clark said.
Charleston Stage is putting together a video and photo memorial for its website, Clark said.
Reach Travis Crum at travis.c...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5163.