MCKINLEY PARK — On Sunday, Omar Castel was volunteering at a carnival for Our Lady of Good Counsel parish.
Four days later, the 17-year-old's lifeless body lay a block away from the church in a bloodied gray T-shirt, black jeans, and black-and-gray Nikes, friends said.
"This kid had a lot of connections in the neighborhood for help. He was getting a lot of help, and still this happens," said Jim Kozy, a youth minister at the parish.
Castel was shot and killed about 12:15 a.m. Friday at 36th Street and Marshfield Avenue. Officers in the area heard shots and arrived to find him shot in his head, said Officer Amina Greer, a Chicago Police Department spokeswoman.
Kozy, 57, has lived in the neighborhood all his life. He was awakened early Friday by a neighbor who heard the shots and then saw the body on the street.
"I went to bed thinking, 'I hope it's not any kid we know'," said Kozy. He woke up to the "haunting" news that it was Castel who'd been killed.
"Anything we asked him to do he would do," Kozy said of Castel. "Anytime we were doing anything, I would invite him just to get him off the street."
Kozy said Castel was a very likable kid who had been in the teen after-school program for years. He said Castel had "his ups and downs" and was on probation. He described his situation as "sad and frustrating."
"The most frustrating thing is you can't help them enough," Kozy said of teens like Castel.
Jamie, who declined to give his last name, said his little brother was close friends with Castel and had just seen Castel at a carnival last week. He dropped off a candle where Castel's body lay in the streets just hours earlier.
"It's scary. It's a scary thought. This is my neighborhood where I grew up," said Jamie, 22, a senior at the University of Illinois-Chicago. "These are the streets I used to walk in when I was younger. It's scary to think about it."
Neighbor Bob Murray, 79, was sitting in his truck when he saw a car drive by and heard the loud, "boom boom boom" of the gunshots. Murray said he heard seven or eight shots then "booked it [cleared out]."
"There's always some shootings around here. If they think you're a witness then they shoot you," Murray said.
Murray said the neighborhood knew Castel as "Two Squares," because he always carried two cigarettes with him. He often saw the boy walking around or playing basketball in the park across the street.
"It's a shame a young boy like that getting shot. He never bothered anyone, and he wasn't the kind of kid to walk around with a gun in his hand," Murray said. "They say the good die young, well today, they proved it."