Friends and classmates of a Chicago-area high school senior were tight-lipped Tuesday evening as they walked into a service to pray for a teen left on life support after a brawl on an Indiana beach.
The 17-year-old, who NBC Chicago is not publicly naming, was caught up in a fight Monday on Long Beach, just northeast of Michigan City, Ind. There's word the clash may have erupted over an ethnic slur related to Independence Day and that the teen was trying to quell the violence.
"They taught their son to be a peacemaker," said neighbor and family friend Peg Sullivan outside St. Barnabas Church, at 10134 S. Longwood Ave., in Chicago's Beverly neighborhood.
She said the boy's parents were very involved in his life. Another neighbor said family members are all in Indiana.
The incident reportedly occurred at a section of beach known as "Stop 26," a location notorious for underage drinking, especially on Independence Day.
Authorities confirmed Tuesday that there is an ongoing investigation, but details of exactly what happened have not yet come out.
On her way into the Long Beach Police Department on Tuesday, one female said she witnessed the fight on the beach over the holiday weekend. But on her way out of the office, she'd changed her talkative ways, apparently advised to not speak publicly about the case.
"I have to go, I'm sorry," the woman said.
Other apparent witnesses were also seen entering the building to provide their accounts of what transpired on the beach.
Word spread about the incident through social media, with one Facebook page for the Mount Carmel lacrosse team requesting prayers for the victim.
A neighbor said the victim was an only child. His father is a firefighter and his mother is a vision and hearing screener for Chicago Public Schools who has, for years, volunteered her services at St. Barnabas Elementary, where the boy and many of his Mt. Carmel classmates attended school.