A birthday party ended tragically when a shooting claimed the life of a 17-year-old Hillcrest High School basketball standout and left a second teen wounded early Sunday in south suburban Lynwood.
Ryan Royall, 17, was shot multiple times at Ho Chunk Sports and Expo Center in Lynwood. He was pronounced dead at 1:21 a.m. at Franciscan St. Margaret Mercy Health Care in Dyer, Ind., said Lake County, Ind. Deputy Coroner Pam Nauracy.
Royall, who just finished his junior year at Hillcrest, played guard on the school's basketball team. He'd just played Saturday during the Riverside-Brookfield Summer Tournament.
As many as 500 people were at the sports center for a 16-year-old's birthday party when the shooting happened around 12:45 a.m.
Royall was remembered by Hillcrest basketball coach Don Houston.
"He was such a harmless kid. There wasn't a mean bone in his body," said Houston, who believes the shooting was "random" and stemmed from a fight that Royall had no part of.
"From what I understand, the party was pretty much over and a fight broke out in the other parking lot. Ryan was in a different parking lot, far away from that when he was shot. He wasn't involved, it was just a random shooting."
The coach said Royall was expected to be one of their top players this year.
"He played in all three games for us yesterday. We went 3-0 and were going to play in the championship bracket today," Houston said. "Ryan was one of my leading players, an all-conference guy. Just a tough kid on the court."
Houston, along with all of Royall’s teammates were at his mother’s home Sunday afternoon.
“We're just doing the best we can to keep her spirits up," Houston said Sunday afternoon.
The surviving teen was taken to an undisclosed hospital.