A college student from New Jersey died overnight Thursday, two days after being struck in the head by a bullet allegedly fired by a career criminal as she walked near her campus in Nashville — and lay for an hour before a passerby found her.
Jillian Ludwig, 18, a freshman at Belmont University, had been initially listed in critical condition after being shot about 2:30 p.m. Tuesday while walking at Edgehill Community Memorial Gardens Park.
But just before 10 a.m. Thursday, the Nashville Police Department announced on X: “Sadly, Jillian Ludwig passed away during the night.”
Following Ludwig’s death, authorities are discussing updated charges against suspected shooter Shaquille Taylor, 29, who was already arrested and charged with aggravated assault and evidence tampering.
He had allegedly opened fire on a car from a public housing complex across the street — striking the innocent business major from Wall Township, NJ, as she walked on a track, police said earlier.
One of the shots “is alleged to have struck Ludwig in the head, causing her to immediately collapse,” police said.
However, she appeared to have gone unnoticed for at least an hour, with a passerby reporting finding her on the ground at about 3:30 p.m.
Following Ludwig’s death, authorities are discussing updated charges against Taylor, who was arrested and charged with aggravated assault and evidence tampering Wednesday, the Metro Nashville Police said.
Surveillance video and witnesses led cops to the suspected gunman, who admitted to firing shots, police said.
The accused gunman has been charged over previous shootings — but was released from custody earlier this year after being deemed incompetent to stand trial.
Video captured Ludwig falling after she was struck by the stray bullet, according to a police affidavit.
Taylor was arrested Wednesday and charged with aggravated assault and evidence tampering.
He was accused of giving the gun to another person after the shooting, The Tennessean reported, citing court records.
His girlfriend also told investigators that he admitted to her that he was involved in a shooting, according to police records cited by The Tennessean.
Belmont University, a private Christian school in the Tennessee city, announced the shocking incident involving the business major from the Garden State, in an email to students and staff.
Jones encouraged students to take advantage of counseling services.
“On days like this one, let us lean into this love as we do our best as a community to care for and support one another,” school president Greg Jones said. “Please join me in praying for Jillian’s family, friends, and loved ones.”
Belmont students and faculty gathered on campus Wednesday to pray for Ludwig, Fox 17 reported.
Nashville Mayor Freddie O’Connell called for unity.
“My prayers, our prayers are all for Jillian and her family right now,” O’Connell told the crowd. “She, like so many, had come to Belmont for its incredible music business program.”
He added: “We have to resolve to fight for a more just society where this kind of violence does not plague our streets, but also a safer community, that takes action,” News Channel 15 reported.
“We know that it is impossible to feel safe when any of us are not safe in some way,” he said.
The suspect has been charged criminally several times in the past.
In 2021, he was charged with three counts of assault with a deadly weapon after he and another man were accused of shooting at a female driver while her two kids were in the back seat.
At least two rounds struck the vehicle.
Earlier this year, a Nashville judge dismissed the charges and Taylor was released after court-appointed doctors testified that he was incompetent to stand trial.
Federal and state laws prohibit the prosecution of mentally incompetent people.
A court order explained that Taylor had developed pneumonia at birth, which led to a brain infection, and that he continues to function at a kindergarten level.
Taylor also did not meet the criteria for involuntary commitment, so the court had “reached the limit of its authority,” Criminal Court Judge Angelita Blackshear Dalton wrote.
Taylor was later arrested in a grocery store parking lot driving a Ford F-150 pickup truck that had been carjacked by two men wearing ski masks on Sept. 16, police said.
He was charged with felony auto theft and released on a $20,000 bond.
A warrant was issued when he failed to appear in court.
Nashville District Attorney General Glenn Funk issued a statement Wednesday criticizing the Tennessee law that sets out rules for when a person can be involuntarily committed.
The law requires at least two doctors to certify that the person suffers from a severe mental illness or developmental disability that causes him or her to be at a substantial risk of serious harm to himself or others.
“The law must be altered to accurately balance individual needs with public safety,” Funk said in a statement. “At the same time, Tennessee must provide more beds and staffing resources to handle dangerous individuals.”