Student dies after being shot in the head by stray bullet

NASHVILLE, TN – On Thursday morning, the Metro Nashville Police Department announced the death of 18-year-old Jillian Ludwig, a freshman at Belmont University. Ludwig, who was shot in the head on Tuesday, succumbed to her injuries during the night. She was found critically wounded by a passerby in Edgehill Memorial Gardens Park, where she was walking along a track.

Ludwig’s bereaved family remembered the New Jersey native as a compassionate young woman who was enjoying her first year of college. However, this shooting incident robbed her of all her future opportunities. Her attacker, identified by police as Shaquille Taylor, 29, was allegedly shooting at a car in a public housing unit across the street from the park when a stray bullet hit Ludwig.

Taylor, who has a criminal past, was charged with aggravated assault and evidence tampering. Discussions with the district attorney’s office about revising these charges in light of Ludwig’s death are pending. In a separate shooting incident in 2021, Taylor had been declared incompetent to stand trial by court-appointed doctors.

The tragic event has stirred Nashville District Attorney General Glenn Funk to urge the Tennessee Legislature to simplify the process of committing someone to a mental institution. This recourse is currently bound by stringent state laws, which Funk characterizes as setting a “nearly impossible standard.”

Amid the shocking episode, Nashville Mayor Freddie O’Connell called for additional resources for individuals with mental health crises and vigorous measures to restrict firearm access for those known to be community threats. He reiterated the desperate need to balance individual needs with public safety.

Belmont University mourns the loss of Ludwig, who was studying music business. The university’s President, Lorentz Gregory Jones, expressed the community’s collective struggle with fear, anger, and grief arising from the unanticipated violent incident.