The Merrillville High School football team and school community are mourning the shooting death over the weekend of Johnathan Brown, 18, who was remembered for his smile and as a valued member of the team.
Brown, who had a listed address in Aurora, Illinois, died after a shooting Friday night near a Buffalo Wild Wings in Homewood, Illinois, according to a release from the police department there.
Around 8:35 p.m. Homewood police responded to a report of shots fired in the 17500 block of Halsted. Police found a male, later identified as Brown, with gunshot wounds in a parking lot near the restaurant.
Brown was transported to a hospital with life threatening injuries where he later died, police said. A second 18-year-old male from Merrillville also was injured in the shooting. Police said he drove himself to a hospital in Gary, where he was treated and released.
Additional information about the shooting was not available late Monday afternoon.
The Homewood Police Department Criminal Investigations Unit is conducting the ongoing investigation with the assistance of the South Suburban Major Crimes Task Force. Anyone who may have information about the shooting is asked to contact the Homewood Police Department Criminal Investigations Unit at (708) 206-3420.
Merrillville coach Brad Seiss spoke about Brown’s smile, and his passion and joy for the game.
“He was just a really nice kid,” Seiss said. “He will be missed.”
Brown played defensive back for the Pirates, recording 25 tackles this season as they won their fourth straight sectional title before losing to eventual Class 5A state champion Valparaiso in a regional.
Merrillville High School football announced Brown’s death on social media on Sunday, with a roster photo of Brown and one of him in uniform.
“Please keep the family, friends, and Pirate Football Family in your thoughts and prayers as we mourn the loss of senior Johnathan Brown. He brought a great smile and joy to our football program. He will be missed,” the post stated.
Nick Brown, superintendent of the Merrillville Community Schools, said in a Monday email that Brown attended the Merrillville schools through middle school and moved to Illinois, moving back here in August.
“He was a valued member of our football team and a wonderful young man. It is a very sad day for the Merrillville community. Our thoughts and prayers are with Johnathan’s family and friends,” the superintendent said.
The high school will have additional counselors and staff available to support students when they return Tuesday after a day off for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Brown said.
Staff reporter Michael Osipoff contributed.