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Chesterfield high school teacher mourned

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CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) -

A popular Chesterfield high school teacher is being mourned.

Thomas Dale School staff, current and former students confirm biology teacher Vinny Ferraiolo was found dead inside his exotic pet store Friday afternoon.

Chesterfield Fire officials tell NBC12 the call came in as a cardiac arrest around 12:30 p.m. at the store, Off The Ark, on Ironbridge Road. A makeshift memorial of flowers and notes is growing outside the beloved teacher's shop.

"I'm heartbroken," said former student Heather Page. "It is just devastating."

Former students also created a RIP Vinny display at Thomas Dale High School.

"He was like having a dad at school," said Nancy Sanchez with tears in her eyes. "He was like having a big brother at school. He was more than a teacher and mentor. He was a great guy."

Sanchez crafted the display at Thomas Dale.

"I grew up a military child," said Sanchez. "I went to several different schools. I've had a lot of teachers, and he is probably the best teacher I ever had."

Chesterfield Police say they are treating this as a death investigation. It is being handled by the criminal investigations division as is customary in these cases. Police say there are no initial indications of suspicious activity or foul play.

"We loved him," said Sanchez. "Everybody is shocked, and everybody is hurting right now."

Students are planning a vigil for their teacher Saturday at Off the Ark Exotic Pets. The vigil is expected to start around 7 PM.

We got the following statement from a Chesterfield School spokesperson:

"The Thomas Dale High School crisis team met today to discuss the structure for making support services available to students and staff when school reopens Monday."

-Shawn Smith

Spokesman, Chesterfield Schools

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