College football player shot and killed at a party


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Najee Ali Baker, a football player at Winston-Salem State University, was shot and killed at a party early Saturday on the campus of Wake Forest University in North Carolina.

Baker, 21, had transferred to WSSU last March from Dean College in Franklin, Massachusetts, where he played on the defensive line.

He made the team as a walk-on but sat out this past season as a redshirt. Baker was preparing to play for WSSU this coming season.

“Early this morning, we were alerted that Winston-Salem Police Department officers responded to an altercation at Wake Forest University,” WSSU spokeswoman Jaime Hunt said in a statement. “During the incident, a Winston-Salem State University student Najee Ali Baker was shot. We are deeply saddened to share that … he later succumbed to his injuries at a local hospital. Mr. Baker’s family has been notified.”

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She added, “We understand that students from both campuses were in attendance at the event. If you have any information about this incident, please contact the Winston-Salem Police Department at 336-773-7700 or call Crime Stoppers at 336-727-2800.”

The shooting happened at about 1 a.m. at The Barn, described as a social space for students where concerts and other gatherings are typically held.

Wake Forest President Nathan Hatch said in an email via WXII-TV in Winston-Salem that the shooting stemmed from “an altercation at a party on campus in The Barn.”

“I am deeply saddened to report that the student later succumbed to his injuries,” Hatch said. “My thoughts and prayers this morning are with the student’s family, friends and classmates, as well as our Wake Forest community.”

No suspect had been identified early Saturday afternoon.

The Winston-Salem Police Department is investigating the incident, along with Wake Forest University Police and Winston-Salem State University Police.

Winston-Salem State, ranked as one of the top historically black colleges and universities in the U.S., is about five miles away from Wake Forest in the town of Winston-Salem.

Many on the WSSU campus were reeling from the news of Baker’s death.

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“I was shocked when I got the call and as a coach you never want to get this kind of call,” WSSU coach Kienus Boulware told the Winston-Salem Journal. “I spoke with Najee’s father and it’s a tough call to make to let him know that his son won’t be coming home.”

“We knew him as a kid who was laid back and quiet and he never gave us an ounce of trouble,” Boulware added. “This is just a tough time for all of us at Winston-Salem State and not just the football team.”

WSSU is offering counseling for grieving students.

“We understand that an incident such as this can stir up emotions among members of the campus community,” said Hunt. “Counseling services will be available for any individual who needs support.”

Our thoughts and prayers are with Baker’s family and friends.

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Dave is a lifelong sports fan who has been writing for The Wildcard since 2017. He has been a writer for more than 20 years for a variety of publications.
Dave has been writing about sports for The Wildcard since 2017. He's been a reporter and editor for over 20 years, covering everything from sports to financial news. In addition to writing for The Wildcard, Dave has covered mutual funds for Pensions and Investments, meetings and conventions, money market funds, personal finance, associations, and he currently covers financial regulations and the energy sector for Macallan Communications. He has won awards for both news and sports reporting.
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