BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - McKinley High School should be a place of celebration as graduation nears. Instead, grief counselors are on campus helping students and staff cope with the sudden and violent loss of one of their own.
"It's just been so hard losing him," said senior, Marcus Hills.
Bryant Lee, 18, was shot and killed after a party early Saturday morning. The senior quarterback was hoping to attend Southern University in the fall. Saturday was the second time Lee had suffered a gunshot wound. In November, the teen was shot in the leg during an apparent drive by shooting.
Hills played as Lee's running back for two years. He says the teen was known as "BJ" and was the first to share a laugh.
"BJ was just funny. He can always lighten the mood. Just funny, singing, dancing, rapping, anything, anybody," said Hills. "Nobody hated him. That's the craziest thing about it. Nobody disliked him at any point in time."
Counselors from ICare, the school system's counseling services, are providing help for students or staff struggling to cope. ICare's director, Gwynn Shamlin, says their focus right now is helping students and staff get through the tragedy in a healthy way.
"There's still the sense of possibly denial, feelings like anger, maybe not understanding fully why what happened," said Shamlin.
The ICare services, said Shamlin, will be available to anyone who needs them. Counselors will also be on standby for McKinley's graduation Wednesday morning.
As for the case, police are still piecing together what led up to the shooting. Even though investigators believe more than 100 people were at the scene that night, investigators say very few have offered statements. Suspects and motive are still unknown. That's where Crime Stoppers hopes to step in.
"People are scared to say anything. They don't want to become the next victim or worse than that, apathy. 'It wasn't me, I'm not going to worry about that,'" said Crime Stoppers executive director, Sid Newman. "Crime Stoppers offers that opportunity to remain completely anonymous with the incentive of a cash reward."
Crime Stoppers is offering a reward up to $2,500 for information that leads to an arrest or indictment.
Lee's friends are also pleading for information. "I want people to know it's not a bad thing to come forward and give details that you know. It could be the crucial detail to the investigation being figured out," said Hills.