COLLEGE PARK, Ga. -- Former Madison Central High School baseball player and MLB first-round pick Ryan Bolden was shot and killed at a College Park apartment complex Wednesday.
Bolden was killed at the Lakeside Reserve Apartments on Lakemont Drive, in an incident that began with children fighting over candy. Violence erupted when adults became involved.
College Park Police Master Sgt. Jeff Hightower said Bolden was hit in the chest. He was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital, where he later died.
The shooter has been identified, but his name has not yet been released. Hightower said detectives have been in contact with the suspect through a relative and hope to interview him soon.
Some of his closest acquaintances said Bolden had the world in front of him.
Just 23 years old, Bolden had already seen great success — he was drafted in the first round of the Major League Baseball draft right out of his senior season at Madison Central — and he was poised for even more.
"Ryan was a great kid, and I mean that," said Gregg Perry, Bolden's baseball coach at Madison Central. "You hate to see something like this happen to such a good kid. It's really upsetting. It's confusing. It's just hard to understand."
Bolden was nationally known for his tremendous baseball talent. Drafted as the 40th overall pick by the Los Angeles Angels in 2010, Bolden had a nagging back injury that forced him away from the game in 2013, though his friends said he was healthy and set to return next season.
But to many in Madison, Bolden's baseball talent paled in comparison to his bubbling personality. Seemingly always surrounded by a group of friends, he was considered the class clown by many.
"He was always the natural center of attention, and he could always put a smile on your face," his friend Connor Goodspeed said. "He always seemed to have a group of people with him. He was just so enjoyable to be with."
His on-the-field talent is still talked about widely in Madison and across the metro area. Perry said he has never coached a better player than Bolden, and he was a star when he stepped foot on the diamond.
"He could just flat out run, which was something we always tried to let him do a lot of playing our small ball game," Perry said. "But he had such a good bat that you had to let him swing. He could crush the ball."
A former teammate remembered what he called the beginning of the "legend of Ryan Bolden."
During a fundraising home run derby competition at the high school stadium, Bolden hit the ball farther than anyone had in the event's past.
"He hit the ball about 480 feet, and the entire Madison community was there to see it," Zach Irwin said. "People around here still talk about that hit. That started the legend of Ryan Bolden."
Off the field, Bolden had a big personality that made him a well-liked person at Madison Central.
"I'll always remember how happy he was," Perry said. "He was quiet around the coaches a lot of times, but there are many people that say he was the funniest player they've ever played with. I know that people are really going to miss that about him."
As news of Bolden's death spread Thursday, messages from people who knew him and even those who did not flooded social media.
Multiple professional baseball players who knew Bolden tweeted their condolences, and national sports outlets reported the news.
"When I first heard about it, I just couldn't believe it," Goodspeed said. "He had his whole life in front of him. I don't think it's really hit everyone yet. We're still all in shock."