'Loved by all': Clay HS student shot, killed while bicycling

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SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Nathan Hall, 18, was shot and killed early Wednesday morning while riding his bike near Muessel Grove Park in South Bend.

SBPD's ShotSpotter sensor picked up the sound of gunshots in the 1400 block of N. Adams around 12:45 a.m., alerting police to the crime. They arrived on the scene within a minute.

Hall was found lying in the street, shot in the head. He was taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

St. Joseph County Metro Homicide took over the investigation, cordoning off the area and searching for evidence. Lt. Dave Wells said they were looking for anyone with information to come forward.

According to Wells there were no obvious suspects or witnesses outside when they arrived.

An autopsy was performed on Hall Wednesday morning. A pathologist determined the cause of death to be a gunshot wound and the manner of death to be a homicide.

Kyle Blair has been Hall's next door neighbor for years. He says he spoke to his friend a couple hours before the shooting. Hall told Blair he was going to go meet another buddy.

"He texted me, 'Bro,' and I texted, 'What's up?'" Blair said. "And, he never texted me back, so I thought that was weird. So, I called him and no answer. And, next thing you know I wake up today and he's dead."

Jessica Clements is also a friend of Hall's and said the teen and his mother didn’t show up this morning to drive them to school. Shortly thereafter she learned her friend had been killed.

“At first I didn’t believe it, I couldn’t picture that happening to him,” said Clements, “I was in denial at first.”

Several of Hall's friends described him as an all-around good person and an avid athlete. Just hours before his death Clements said they were all playing basketball together, but she didn’t have an answer as to why Hall was out after midnight riding his bike along Adams St.

“I think we’re all still looking for answers, we all want to know why it happened to him, who did it and why something like this had to happen,” Clement said.

Friends say Hall had no enemies and was well-liked among peers. They have no idea why anyone would shoot him.

"I have no reason to believe that somebody really had enough hatred toward Nathan to do that to him," Blair said. "It was probably a stupid senseless act of somebody being high or drunk or trying to make a name for themselves. And, that's not the way to do it."

Investigators are actively working on getting those answers, but as of Wednesday afternoon had not made any arrests.

While Hall’s loved ones were shocked to learn the 18-year-old had been killed at gunpoint, those living a mile away on and near Adams St. weren’t surprised to see flashing lights and police tape.

“I’m so used to the ambulance and police cars flying up and down the street that I didn’t really pay it that much attention,” said Jennifer Ward who lives just around the corner from the crime scene.

One neighbor moved into the area about one month ago and already regrets that decision, “now it’s all thugs, everything, all bad people, bad people and I don’t even feel comfortable where I live.”

Ward and her son Dewayne Hutton referenced a number of shootings on Johnson St., just two blocks away from their home, and said they’re angered by the fact that violence has become the so-called “norm.”
“We’re tired of burying people, we really are,” Ward explained.

So far in 2014, St. Joseph County Metro Homicide has conducted at least seven investigations, three of which have been in the past week.

Clay High School Principal Mansour Eid released the following statement Wednesday afternoon:

"Clay High School has just learned that Nathaniel Hall is the latest victim of an act of senseless violence.

"Nate was a senior with a jovial personality loved by all. He was highly active in Clay athletics, participating in basketball, baseball, and tennis. He was always positive and encouraged his teammates to do their best both on or off the court and field.

"He was on track to graduate with his class in June. Nate's good heart earned him the respect of peers and teachers alike. He will be dearly missed."