Chaston Brown

A search is ongoing in Alabama for a missing Ponchatoula teen last seen Sunday afternoon in the waters off a public beach in Gulf Shores.

The Gulf Shores Police Department received a swimmer-in-distress call at about 4 p.m. Sunday for the 17-year-old boy, department spokesman Cpl. Josh Coleman said.

Coleman did not name the teen, citing privacy restrictions in naming youths, but TV stations in Alabama and friends on Twitter are reporting the teen is Chaston Brown. The Orange Beach Fire and Rescue Department also confirmed the teen’s name.

Because of rip currents in the area, officials called off the search at 7 p.m. Sunday and resumed Monday morning with air support from Alabama State Police and a sonar-equipped Orange Beach Fire and Rescue boat, Coleman said.

A Gulf Shores police dive team is on standby, Coleman said. Beach patrol will continue to search the area in case the body washes ashore, and the search could expand to neighboring beaches in the next few days depending on the currents.

At about 6:40 p.m. Monday, the Police Department announced on its Facebook page that it was suspending search efforts in the water, while beach patrols would continue combing the shores into the night.

When the teen was reported missing Sunday, there was a yellow flag on the beach indicating medium-strength surf and currents, Coleman said. There was a single red flag up Monday, indicating dangerous rip tides.

Brown’s friends and classmates took to Twitter on Sunday and Monday to express their grief and shock.

“Starting to finally calm down. But I will never be able to accept it,” Adam Coffey wrote about midnight Sunday.

“Just wanna wake up from this nightmare,” he tweeted shortly after.

Coty McNabb tweeted that they were not drinking when Brown went missing.

“I love you Chaston. I still can’t believe you’re gone. I was talking to you just a few hours ago,” McNabb wrote a few hours after Brown went missing.