Belmont University freshman dies from stray bullet while at local park in Nashville


Officials confirmed that a Nashville college student has died a day after she was shot in the head by a stray bullet while walking on a trail near the campus of Belmont University.  The Metropolitan Nashville Police Department said in a news release that the Belmont University freshman, 18-year-old Jillian Ludwig of New Jersey, was shot Tuesday afternoon as she walked on a track in Edgehill Memorial Gardens Park. She was taken to the hospital in extremely critical condition after a passerby found her lying on the ground. The department later shared on social media Thursday morning: “Sadly, Jillian Ludwig passed away during the night.”

A suspect is in custody in the shooting, which happened around 2:24 p.m. Shaquille Taylor, 29, was quickly identified as a suspect and taken into custody. Police said the gunfire came from a public housing unit across the street from the park and that Taylor was allegedly shooting at a car when a stray bullet struck Ludwig. Taylor was charged with aggravated assault and evidence tampering and is being held on a $280,000 bond. Police said Thursday they were in discussion with the district attorney’s office about modifying his charges.

Authorities said the suspect had previously been released for incompetence to stand trial in a separate shooting. At the time of Ludwig’s shooting, Taylor had a warrant for failing to appear in court stemming from a Sept. 21 arrest in a grocery store parking lot. Taylor was driving a Ford F-150 pickup truck that had been carjacked by two men wearing ski masks on Sept. 16. Taylor, who did not admit to being involved in the carjacking, was charged with felony auto theft and was released on a $20,000 bond.

Ludwig was a freshman music business major and was remembered by the university as an “engaged member of our community” who loved “music and its incredible power.” Belmont University President Lorentz Gregory Jones shared: “This is a lot for us all to process. We grapple now with grief, anger, anxiety and a strong sense of fear in the face of senseless violence.”

Ludwig’s family said they were “beyond devastated” by her death, saying: “Jillian was a creative, compassionate, fearless young woman. She was thriving in her freshman year of college and on the cusp of so many successes. She was senselessly robbed of those opportunities and we will miss her dearly every day forever.”

Editorial credit: Cheri Alguire /