WALL TOWNSHIP — Several candlelight vigils were held last week for Jillian Ludwig, a 2023 graduate of Wall High School who died Nov. 9, two days after being struck by a stray bullet in a Nashville park.
Nov. 8 vigils following the announcement that Ms. Ludwig had been shot, were held at the North Wall Little League field and Orchard Park. On Nov. 9, following the announcement of her death, another vigil was held at The Church of Brielle where she had been a member.
According to the Metro Nashville Police Department, Ms. Ludwig, 18, was wounded by the gunshot while walking on the track at Edgehill Community Memorial Gardens Park on Tuesday, Nov. 7. She was taken to Vanderbilt University Medical Center where she had been in critical condition Wednesday.
Police said a suspect, Shaquille Taylor, 29, had been shooting at a car from a nearby apartment and was later arrested and charged.
An announcement by Nashville Police Department on Thursday, Nov. 9. stated, “Sadly, Jillian Ludwig passed away during the night.”
A letter issued by the Wall Township Committee stated:
“We are incredibly saddened to hear about the tragic and untimely passing of Jillian Ludwig. Jillian was an exceptional young leader within our community. She graced us with her beautiful voice to sing the National Anthem at many township community events. Jillian was a member of the Young Women’s Leadership Committee of Wall Township and was the recipient of the 2023 Women’s Leadership Committee Scholarship Award,” said in a letter from the township committee. “Wall Township takes prides fostering a community centered around the core values of love and support. We would like to offer our deepest condolences to her family and friends during this difficult time.”
Wall Schools Superintendent Tracy Handerhan said. “Wall Township Public Schools was made aware this morning of the news regarding our recent graduate and we are deeply saddened. Our thoughts are with her and her family during this difficult time. Support and resources have been and will continue to be available for students and staff impacted by this event.”
Ms. Ludwig was a freshman at Belmont University in Nashville where she planned to pursue a bachelor’s degree in music recording and production arts.
Belmont University President Lorentz Gregory Jones said, “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…we will be working with campus leaders and area pastors to organize additional resources to assist our community over the next few days and throughout the weekend.”
A GoFundMe has been created for the Ludwig family: www.gofundme.com/f/honor-jillian-ludwig-a-legacy-of-music-and-love
Her Facebook page reflected her love of music. She played guitar and is pictured on the site playing at various venues, including The Stone Pony in Asbury Park. She was a member of bands called ”Arcadia” and “Good Morning Beautiful” according to her posts.
Nashville Police said officers searched the area of the shooting for evidence and witnesses and found “six 40-caliber cartridge casings on 13th Court near 1370 14 Ave. S in Nashville.”
The police report also stated that security camera footage from the nearby Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency showed a suspect believed to be Mr. Taylor firing several rounds at a dark sedan outside the park at about 2:30 p.m. The sedan is then shown leaving the scene.
Police said they were able to identify Mr. Taylor after determining the address of his girlfriend, who lives in an apartment nearby.
Mr. Taylor was arrested and initially charged with aggravated assault and tampering with evidence. His girlfriend was also detained. He identified himself as the suspect from the MDHA camera footage, and his bond was set at $280,000.
Following Ms. Ludwig’s death, the Nashville Police Department issued a statement saying, “We are in discussion with the District Attorney’s Office concerning modified charges against Shaquille Taylor.
“We are beyond devastated by Jillian’s tragic and senseless death. She was absolutely thriving in her first semester of college. She had already made a positive impact at her university and had many close friends. We were so excited to see the many successes that were surely ahead for her. The past few days have ripped out our hearts and the hearts of everyone who knew Jill,” said Matthew Ludwig, father of the 18-year-old.
“Jillian’s focus was always on making the world a better place. As we deal with our profound grief, we will be taking action to ensure our legal system is reformed so that no other parent has to deal with the pain of losing an innocent child just beginning the best times of their life. Our promise is that Jillian Ludwig will be a household name for positive change in our society, instead of the horrific event that ended her incredible life way too short.”
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