(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) — The parents of a Belmont University freshman who was killed by a stray bullet earlier this week are speaking out about the death of their daughter.
Jillian Ludwig, 18, was struck in the head by a bullet when walking in a park in Nashville, Tennessee, authorities said. She was taken to the hospital on Wednesday in critical condition and died on Thursday morning.
“There’s a piece of my heart that was taken from me,” Jessica Ludwig, her mother, told “Good Morning America” in an interview. “And I don’t know how to feel that.”
“It’s kind of hard to comprehend,” said her father, Matt Ludwig. “She was thriving so well and doing so well in so many ways, in every way.”
Shaquille Taylor, 29, was allegedly shooting at a vehicle across the street from the park when a stray bullet hit Jillian Ludwig.
Police said Taylor was most recently arrested in September, charged with felony auto theft and released on a $20,000 bond. Taylor missed his Nov. 3 court appearance and the court issued a failure to appear warrant, according to Nashville police.
“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.
Taylor was initially charged with aggravated assault and evidence tampering for the alleged shooting, police said. In the wake of Ludwig’s death, police said they were “in discussion with the District Attorney’s Office concerning modified charges.”
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.
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