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Jillian Ludwig

Christian college freshman in Nashville killed by stray bullet

Family and friends will gather this evening for the funeral of a Christian college freshman killed by a stray bullet.

Jillian Ludwig, 18, was pronounced dead at Vanderbilt University Medical Center Christian after being struck by a stray bullet fired by a criminal who had just been released from jail.

“This is a lot for us all to process,” Belmont University President Greg Jones in a campuswide email. “We grapple now with grief, anger, anxiety and a strong sense of fear in the face of senseless violence.”

Jones reiterated in his message a story that he shared during a midweek prayer service:

“In closing, I would repeat the words spoken at our prayer service Wednesday, a lament from a man who lost his son and was wrestling with great grief: `My wounds are an unanswered question. The wounds of humanity are an unanswered question.’ Today, we too must sit with the unanswered questions. I pray you will do so with others in this community and that together we can bring comfort to one another.”

Matt and Jessica Ludwig remain in shock over the death. “She was just enjoying a beautiful Tuesday afternoon between classes,” said Jillian’s father, Matt Ludwig. “She had enjoyed going for runs lately. She was two blocks from campus out for a run.”

The alleged assailant, 29-year-old Shaquille Taylor, has been arrested and charged with aggravated assault and evidence tampering after an unnamed informant video footage, and his own alleged confession connected him to the Tuesday shooting. Police investigators said it appears Taylor was shooting at a nearby vehicle when the bullet hit Ludwig.

As for his criminal history, Taylor was charged in April with aggravated assault, according to Nashville District Attorney Glenn Funk. However, the assailant ultimately was found by three doctors to be incompetent to stand trial. Taylor also didn’t meet Tennessee’s standards for involuntary commitment, so he was released. Funk is calling on lawmakers in the state to make it less complicated to commit someone such as Taylor to a mental institution.

“This nearly impossible standard impacts public safety,” he said. “The law must be altered to accurately balance individual needs with public safety. At the same time, Tennessee must provide more beds and staffing resources to handle dangerous individuals.”

–Alan Goforth | Metro Voice


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