Brown had just finished his sophomore year at Randallstown High School, where he had been on the wrestling, lacrosse and football teams, as well as in a military officer training program. His mother said he was mischievous but wouldn't do anything that would attract the law or even draw discipline from his teachers.
Shelia D. Reed, the assistant principal at Randallstown High School, said the extent of Brown's misbehavior was "being in the hall a little too late. He was no prankster, by any stretch of the imagination. He was a kind-hearted kid and a sweet child."
Reed said Brown was in what is called an Individual Education Plan, which is part of the school's special-education program. She said she could not disclose his precise learning disability, but she said students at his level typically are slow at reading, math or comprehension.
Brown was in classes with other students, Reed said, but needed extra help. She said his mother visited the school whenever his grades fell, "and she was working with us, working with him, trying to make sure that Chris was on target."
She described Brown's death as "a tremendous loss to our school. Everybody is heartbroken." Of what happened Wednesday night, Reed said the details that have emerged so far "do not fit the person I know."
The assistant principal said, "He may have been frightened and ran away. I could see that possibly happening. We tell our kids all the time, 'If you are approached by someone and you're not doing anything wrong, or if it's not that bad, don't run.' We just can't say what a kid will do if they feel they are in trouble for something."
In fact, Reed said, Brown was typically the first student to tell a teacher about someone else's wrongdoing.
Ray Wright, one of the high school's football coaches, described Brown as a fun-loving kid but one who shied away from confrontation.
That Brown would have sought refuge during a confrontation between neighborhood kids and the officer makes sense, the coach said. "For him to be hiding in a bush, that's Chris Brown."
Baltimore Sun reporter Kevin Rector contributed to this article.