NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A Belmont University student is in “extremely critical condition” after she was shot in the head Tuesday afternoon while walking in the Edgehill neighborhood, according to authorities.
Metro police said the student, identified as 18-year-old Jillian Ludwig from New Jersey, was hit by a bullet while she was walking on the track in Edgehill Community Memorial Gardens Park.
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According to an arrest report, officers were flagged down to the park just after 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 7 to respond to a report regarding an individual who was seen lying on the track. Upon arrival, officers found the 18-year-old suffering from a gunshot wound to the head.
Authorities said Ludwig was taken to Vanderbilt University Medical Center, where she is in “extremely critical condition.”
In a statement, Belmont University President Dr. Greg Jones said Ludwig is a freshman at the university and known for her love of music:
I am writing today with devastating news that Jillian Ludwig, a Belmont freshman, is in critical condition after sustaining injuries from a stray gunshot while she was walking on the track in the Edgehill Community Memorial Gardens Park.
Jillian is an engaged member of our community who is known for her love of music and its incredible power. A music business major and bass player, she is often found at concerts, cheering on fellow musicians and using music as a way to connect with those around her. Jillian is also an avid runner who enjoys being outside.
I want to encourage you to take advantage of the resources we have available on campus that provide support in times of grief and pain. I will be convening a Prayer Service at noon at the Bell Tower for our entire community to pray for Jillian and her family.Dr. Greg Jones
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Investigators said the gunfire came from public housing across the street, and the shooting was captured by the property’s surveillance cameras.
In an arrest report, officers state that the footage showed a man wearing a yellow shirt, jeans and red shoes fire multiple shots toward a dark sedan traveling along 13th Court toward Deford Bailey Avenue shortly before 2:30 p.m. Tuesday.
At the same time, Ludwig was reportedly seen walking in the park on the opposite site of Deford Bailey Avenue and falling down after being struck by a bullet that was fired by the suspect. Metro police said she laid on the ground until she was found by a passerby about an hour after the shots were fired.
During the investigation, an informant allegedly told officers that 29-year-old Shaquille Taylor was responsible for the shooting.
A witness also told officers that she saw the suspect enter a housing unit in the 1300 block of 14th Avenue South after the shots were fired, according to an arrest report. Metro police said they took Taylor into custody as he was walking out of an Edgehill Homes apartment just before 10 p.m. Tuesday.
On Wednesday, Nov. 8, just after 2:30 a.m., Metro police announced that Taylor was taken into custody and charged with aggravated assault and evidence tampering.
Authorities reported that Taylor admitted to firing the shots toward a vehicle and giving the gun to another person during a police interview.
Following Tuesday’s shooting, Nashville District Attorney Glenn Funk released a statement about how Taylor could not be prosecuted earlier this year for three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon related to an incident from August 2021:
On April 13, 2023, the Nashville District Attorney’s Office prosecuted Shaquille Taylor for Aggravated Assault with a deadly weapon.
At a competency hearing on that date, three court appointed doctors unanimously testified that Mr. Taylor was incompetent to stand trial. State and Federal law prohibit prosecution of persons found to be incompetent, so therefore Judge Angelita Dalton was mandated to dismiss the case.
Because the doctors did not find Mr. Taylor met the standards for involuntary commitment, he was released from custody on May 19, 2023.
Under Tennessee law, for a person to be involuntarily committed to a mental health facility, at least two doctors must have executed certificates that the person is suffering from a severe mental illness or developmental disability that causes the person to be a substantial risk of serious harm to himself or others. The doctors must also find that there are no other less restrictive measures than commitment.
This nearly impossible standard impacts public safety. 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.
I will continue to work with the Legislature on these serious mental health issues.District Attorney Glenn Funk
According to officials, Taylor was last arrested less than two months ago, on Sept. 21, in a grocery store parking lot while driving a Ford F-150 pickup truck that had been carjacked on Sept. 16 by two men in ski masks on Whites Creek Pike near Dickerson Pike.
Even though Taylor did not admit to being involved in the carjacking, police said he was charged with felony auto theft and released on a $20,000 bond. However, Taylor failed to appear in court for that charge on Friday, Nov. 3, so the court issued a warrant for failure to appear warrant.
As of Wednesday morning, Taylor remains jailed on a $280,000 bond.
Nashville Mayor Freddie O’Connell issued the following statement Wednesday afternoon, showing his support for the shooting victim, her loved ones, and the Belmont University community as a whole, but also taking a stance on the legal system:
My heart aches today for Jillian Ludwig, her family, and the entire Belmont community. Once again, we grieve senseless gun violence.
I’m heartened by the incredible strength of the Belmont community I witnessed today as they gathered to pray for Jillian’s recovery, and I hope that the Ludwig family feels our support.
Belmont has stood with Nashville so many times, and today we stand with them.
Doctors have previously deemed the suspected shooter to be incompetent to stand trial. Unfortunately, our criminal legal system and limited mental health access left a dangerous individual both untreated and legally armed.
Tennessee needs more beds for individuals experiencing mental health crises and a renewed conversation about how we limit access to firearms for individuals we know are a threat to the community.
Today, I recommitted to our participation in Mayors Against Illegal Guns, and I look forward to working with both local and state leaders to make progress on this issue. But we know that this risk will recur unless we act to close holes in our criminal legal process regarding both urgent mental health needs and firearms access.Mayor Freddie O’Connell
News 2 also received a statement from Tennessee House Majority Leader William Lamberth, who said, “This is a terrible tragedy that could have been avoided if this person had been committed for proper mental health treatment and supervision. Under no circumstances should someone who has been declared incompetent to stand trial have access to any type of deadly weapon. We will be working to restructure our laws this coming session to protect innocent lives and create additional layers of public safety in critical times when it is needed most.”
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This is a developing story. WKRN News 2 will continue to update this article as new information becomes available.