Tennessee college student's parents speak out after NJ daughter killed by stray bullet

ByJon Haworth and Mark Guarino ABCNews logo
Saturday, November 11, 2023
College student's parents speak out after daughter killed by bullet
The parents of a freshman at Belmont University who was hit by a stray bullet are now speaking out about the death of their daughter.

Authorities in Nashville, Tennessee, are considering possible new charges against the 29-year-old man police say fired a bullet that hit and killed a freshman at Belmont University in a public park.

The stray bullet hit college student Jillian Ludwig in the head and sent her to the hospital on Wednesday in critical condition. She died just a day later after fighting for her life.

The victim's parents, Jessica and Matt Ludwig, are now speaking out about the death of their daughter.

"There's a piece of my heart that was taken from me," Jessica Ludwig told "Good Morning America" in an interview on Friday. "And I don't know how to feel that."

Authorities say that the suspect, 29-year-old Shaquille Taylor, was aiming his gun at a nearby vehicle when he allegedly fired the weapon from across the street, hitting Jillian Ludwig who was walking on a track inside the park.

"It's kind of hard to comprehend," said Matt Ludwig. "She was thriving so well and doing so well in so many ways, in every way."

Taylor was previously charged with aggravated assault in April in a separate incident but never faced a jury stemming from that case. He was released from jail shortly after when three court appointed doctors testified that he was competent to stand trial.

The district attorney and Jillian's parents are now urging state lawmakers to change the law.

"A repeat criminal who's deemed to have mental health issues should be dealt with in a facility or in some way that deals with those issues. The answer should not be to release him back into the streets," Matt Ludwig told "GMA" on Friday.

The president of Belmont University issued a statement shortly after the shooting.

"Jillian is an engaged member of our community who is known for her love of music," Belmont University President Greg Jones said in a statement to the school community. "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."

Meanwhile, Jillian's parents are doing their best to come to terms with what happened to their daughter.

"You're just so loved and so missed," said Jessica Ludwig. "And we are so proud of you and you put a lot of living into your 18 years."

The investigation into Ludwig's death is ongoing.