Days after 20-year-old Ryan Bost was shot and killed in Rogers Park just blocks from Loyola’s Lake Shore Campus (LSC), his family and friends are still coming to grips with the tragedy. While Chicago police say they haven’t found the shooter, they may have a suspect.
Ryan was well known in Evanston from his role on the basketball team at Evanston Township High School, but his mom Schawanda Bost remembers her son as someone with a big heart who wanted to help those around him. He had been living at home since leaving University of Connecticut — where he’d earned a scholarship to play basketball — because it was too far from his family, Schawanda said. He was working on applying to colleges closer to home where he could still play basketball.
Ryan “always watched over” his 84-year-old great-grandmother and walked to her house almost every day to bring her groceries and mail, his mother said. His great grandmother’s nickname for him was “pretty boy handsome,” Schawanda said.
“He would take care of anyone,” said Schawanda, who’s 50 and works in a daycare. “If he’s happy, he wants to make sure everyone around him is happy.”
Schawanda said her son was on his way to play basketball with his friends Nov. 9, the night he died. She said Ryan and his friends pulled over for a few minutes, potentially to figure out how to get to the location. It was already dark outside when a man walked up to the car parked at 6700 N. Newgard Ave. and started a conversation with Ryan who was sitting in the backseat, according to a Chicago Police Department (CPD) Media Alert. The man shot Ryan, wounding him in the chest.
“Everybody loves my son, that’s why it’s just so hard to believe that somebody would just come up,” Schawanda said. “I just don’t understand. I want him to be caught because I won’t sleep until this person is caught.”
Schawanda said police showed her a photo of a potential suspect but she wasn’t sure where the photo came from. She said she and others she knew didn’t recognize the person in the photo. CPD wouldn’t comment further on the details of the case.
This is one of a number of shootings that have happened near LSC in an area where numerous students have off-campus apartments. Just blocks away from where this shooting occurred, a 26-year-old was shot near the Morse Red Line Station Sept. 15.
In past years, Loyola students have been more directly involved in the violence. In 2016, a 19-year-old nursing major was shot and nearly killed, The Phoenix reported. In 2014, a 23-year-old student was killed in a shooting a block from campus, The Phoenix reported.
After being shot, Ryan was driven to Presence Saint Francis Hospital in Evanston by friends where he was later pronounced dead, according to CPD. When Schawanda and her husband Robert arrived at the hospital, they found a group of Ryan’s friends, former coaches and teammates already there.
“I was real shocked,” Schawanda said. “I just was saying, ‘My son was loved by so many people.’ I didn’t know he’d touched so many hearts.”
Before Schawanda and Robert were even home from the hospital, neighbors placed candles in honor of Ryan outside their house. The next morning, others added photos of Ryan near the candles. People have been visiting since.
“It’ll be freezing outside and those kids at 10 o’clock will still be out there,” Schawanda said. “I’ll be going to bed and I’ll hear kids pull up and say something to Ryan and then jump back in their car and leave.”
The night after the shooting, a group gathered for a candlelight vigil outside the Bost’s house. Later, the family and nearly 100 others who knew Ryan gathered Nov. 21 and marched from Evanston Township High School to the Bost’s house.
“To know how many lives he affected and to see all those people come out and support was just amazing,” said Robert, 50, who works in maintenance at a public school.
Justin Blake, a friend of the Bosts since childhood and the uncle of Jacob Blake, who was shot by a police officer in Kenosha, helped to organize the march and said he wants to see change so shootings stop happening. Even though the circumstances of Jacob and Ryan’s shootings were different, Justin said reallocating money from police budgets toward resources for the Black community could prevent both of these types of shootings in the future.
“We’re dealing with murder by police officers and murder by community members that are African descendants and look like us,” Justin said. “They both should be addressed in the same way. We can no longer be silent and quiet when our people get murdered, we’re encouraging everyone to stand up and be boisterous while family members are being taken too early.”
Mike Ellis, Ryan’s former basketball coach, was at the hospital the night he died and also at the vigil the next night. He said people at both gatherings were masked and socially distanced due to the coronavirus pandemic, which made it “a challenge” to comfort each other since people couldn’t get close to each other.
Ellis said the pandemic has also made it more difficult to support students at Ryan’s alma mater Evanston Township High School, where Ellis coaches.
“It’s tough because the basketball family would typically meet all our players after school and share our thoughts and be there for one another, but we’re not in school so it’s difficult to do that in a Zoom meeting,” Ellis said.
Ellis first met Ryan when he was in third grade and later coached him when he played as a point guard. Ellis remembers Ryan as someone who came to practice concerned with helping his teammates succeed.
“It seemed our offense flowed best when Ryan was the lead point guard with the ball in his hand,” Ellis said. “The biggest strength he brought to our team was his ability to disrupt the other team’s offense with how hard he guarded the basketball.”
Ellis said Ryan played on a team with four players who went on to become Division 1 athletes in college. Ryan initially took a scholarship offer to play Division Two basketball before he ended up returning to Evanston, Ellis said.
Jaheim Holden, who’s been friends with Ryan since third grade, said it’s been especially hard to mourn his friend because he’s not in Evanston but rather at college in Kansas.
“I’ve been trying to distract myself by going to the gym a lot,” said Holden, a 19-year-old sophomore at Barton Community College. “But it hasn’t been easy at all, especially when I’m trying to sleep. He’s the last thing on my mind before I go to sleep and the first thing when I wake up.”
Holden described Ryan as someone who would “never make you feel like you don’t belong.” He said he and Ryan were on the same basketball teams growing up and were more like brothers than friends because they’d spent so many holidays at each other’s houses and loved having sleepovers.
“When I first found out when it happened, I broke down,” Holden said. “It’s just a feeling of disbelief, someone that you share so much of your life with to be gone at such a young age, it hurts.”
Detectives are still investigating and nobody is in custody.