No one had to tell James Anama at the Palatine police station that his buddy, Michael Castro, was dead.

"I saw his father's face and knew," Anama said.

Anama and others who knew Castro, 16, one of seven people killed at the Brown's Chicken & Pasta in Palatine, were crestfallen.

They recalled thoughts of him Saturday as a hard worker and a good student, a kind soul, and a young man who enjoyed music, dancing and driving his pickup.

"I'm afraid that there's not going to be anyone who will go out and dance anymore," said Melissa Dodzioch, 16, a classmate and friend of Castro's. "He was always the first one out on the dance floor."

Classmates nicknamed him "M.C.," after the dancer and rap star Hammer, formerly known as M.C. Hammer. They said Castro had a good sense of humor and was eager to give friends rides in his truck.

Dodzioch said Castro, a student at Palatine High School, loved to dance at parties held at St. Theresa Catholic Church. His enthusiasm encouraged other teenagers to get on the dance floor.

"He was a fast dancer," Dodzioch said. "He was all over the place."

Friends also said that while Castro enjoyed music and was outgoing and popular with his classmates, he also had a philosophical side. Friends said Castro wanted to go to college.

"He and I would talk about life," said Anama, 16. "We'd talk about how fast time goes, how we were just here and going to graduate next year."

Neighbors said Castro was the youngest of four children in a family known for its closeness and kind spirit.

Mary Jauch, who lives near the Castros in Palatine, said Castro "was the first to help anyone." Jauch said that after her daughter was grazed by a passing car recently, he was one of the first to visit and comfort her.

"He was so good," Jauch said. "I don't think too many people know how good he was because he was so quiet."

Dodzioch said the deaths hit her and her friends hard.

"You just don't think this kind of thing happens here," she said.