Merrillville football player killed in Friday night shooting

The Merrillville High School football team and school community mourn the death of Johnathan Brown, 18, who was shot dead over the weekend and is remembered for his smile and as a valued member of the team.

Brown, who had a registered address in Aurora, Illinois, died after a shooting Friday night near a Buffalo Wild Wings in Homewood, Illinois, according to a local police department press release.

At approximately 8:35 p.m., Homewood Police responded to a report of shots being fired in the 17500 block of Halsted. Police found a man, later identified as Brown, with gunshot wounds in a parking lot near the restaurant.

Brown was taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, where he later died, police said. A second 18-year-old man from Merrillville was also injured in the shooting. Police said he drove himself to a hospital in Gary, where he was treated and discharged.

No further information about the shooting was available late Monday afternoon.

The Homewood Police Department’s Criminal Investigation Department is conducting the ongoing investigation with support from the South Suburban Major Crimes Task Force. Anyone who may have information about the shooting is asked to contact the Homewood Police Department CID 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.”

Playing defensively for the Pirates, Brown recorded 25 tackles that season as they won their fourth straight title before losing to eventual Class 5A state champions Valparaiso in a regional league.

Merrillville High School football announced Brown’s death on social media Sunday, with a roster photo of Brown and one of him in uniform.

“Please keep family, friends and the Pirate Football Family in your thoughts and prayers as we mourn the loss of Senior Johnathan Brown. He brought a big smile and joy to our football program. He will be missed,” the post said.

Merrillville Community Schools Superintendent Nick Brown said in a Monday email that Brown attended the Merrillville schools through middle school and moved to Illinois, returning 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.

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