A Belmont University student was critically injured after being struck by a stray bullet while out for a run in a Nashville park. The shooting has prompted calls for reforming Tennessee’s involuntary commitment laws.
On Tuesday afternoon, 18-year-old Jillian Ludwig was out for a run at Shelby Park in Nashville when she was struck in the head by a stray bullet. Ludwig, a student at Belmont University and New Jersey native, was left in extremely critical condition after the shooting.
Suspect Arrested, Released Earlier This Year
Police arrested 29-year-old Shaquille Taylor in connection with the shooting. According to investigators, Taylor was firing shots at a car when one of the bullets hit Ludwig. Surveillance footage and witness statements led police to identify and arrest Taylor on charges of aggravated assault and evidence tampering.
Shaquille Taylor had been arrested and charged multiple times before. In 2021, he was accused of shooting at a car with two children inside. Earlier this year, those charges were dismissed after court-appointed doctors found Taylor mentally incompetent to stand trial. He was released in May when he did not meet the criteria for involuntary commitment under Tennessee law.
Calls for Reforming Involuntary Commitment Laws
The shooting has led to calls for reforming Tennessee’s stringent involuntary commitment laws. Nashville District Attorney General Glenn Funk issued a statement criticizing the “nearly impossible standard” for involuntarily committing someone under state law.
Funk stated, “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.”
Nashville Mayor Freddie O’Connell also called for more mental health resources and limiting firearm access for threatening individuals. The shooting came just days after a 21-year-old Georgia woman, Brianna Long, was fatally struck by a stray bullet while leaving work.
Jillian Ludwig in Critical Condition
Jillian Ludwig was transported to Vanderbilt University Medical Center after the shooting, where she remains in extremely critical condition. She is a music business major and bass player at Belmont University, known for her love of music and the outdoors.
Ludwig graduated from Wall High School in New Jersey, where news of the shooting has left her hometown community shocked. Belmont University President Greg Jones said the campus is praying for Ludwig’s recovery, describing her as a beloved member of the student community.
As Ludwig fights for her life, the shooting has renewed scrutiny around gaps in the mental healthcare and legal systems that may have led to this tragedy. The public pleas from officials make it clear that critical changes are needed to prevent future violence and properly treat at-risk individuals. Jillian Ludwig’s promising life hanging in the balance has underscored the urgency of reforming laws to balance individual rights with public wellbeing.