College student dies after being hit by a stray bullet in a Nashville park

A Belmont University freshman has died after being hit in the head by a stray bullet while walking on a trail near the Nashville campus, officials said.

Jillian Ludwig, 18, was shot Tuesday afternoon as she walked on a track in Edgehill Memorial Gardens Park, the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department said in a news release.

“Sadly, Jillian Ludwig passed away during the night,” the department said on social media Thursday morning.

A suspect is in custody in the shooting, which happened around 2:24 p.m., when a man on a street near the park opened fire on a moving car, police said.

Ludwig, described by the university’s president as a music lover and “avid runner who enjoys being outside,” was shot and immediately collapsed but wasn’t found until about an hour later when someone passing by spotted her and called police, the release said. She was taken to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in “extremely critical condition.”

The shooting serves as another example of the enduring trauma of gun violence in the US, where everyday activities like going to work, bowling with friends or celebrating a holiday have been violently interrupted by gunfire. Innocent bystanders often suffer the consequences, including a pregnant woman in Massachusetts who was hit by a stray bullet while riding a bus, killing her unborn child and a 10-year-old in California who was killed by a stray bullet while playing with his cousins.

In Nashville, police used video surveillance and witness information to identify the 29-year-old suspect, they said. “He admitted to firing shots during an interview with detectives at police headquarters. He claimed to have given the gun involved to another person,” the news release said.

After Ludwig died, police said they are working with prosecutors on modifying charges against the suspect, who was already charged with aggravated assault and evidence tampering. He is being held on a $260,000 bond for those charges, according to jail records. He also faces a charge for failure to appear in court Friday on charges related to a September carjacking, according to the news release.

It is unclear whether the suspect has an attorney; CNN reached out to the Davidson County Public Defender for comment on his behalf.

“Jillian is an engaged member of our community who is known for her love of music and its incredible power,” Belmont University President Greg Jones said in an email Wednesday to students, faculty and staff before her death was announced. “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.”

Edgehill Memorial Gardens Park is about a half-mile from the Belmont campus, where students, faculty and staff were joined by city leaders Wednesday at a prayer service for Ludwig. A service was also held in her home state of New Jersey.

“Please take the time you need as we all process this tragedy,” Jones said in his email, encouraging those affected to take advantage of the university’s counseling and support services.

CNN’s Chris Boyette contributed to this report.

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