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Death at Wake Forest University is one of 11 school shootings this year

Courtesy of Wake Forest University.

A Winston-Salem State University student was shot and killed at Wake Forest University on Jan. 20 following an alleged altercation at an on-campus venue.

It was one of 11 school shootings so far in 2018.

Najee Baker, 21, was attending a social event at The Barn, a student-centered social space at WFU. The university said in a statement it is common for non-students to attend events there due to their open campus.

Three days after the event occurred, the Winston-Salem Police Department identified three men who they thought were suspects in the criminal investigation. The department has since located and interviewed two of the men.

Malik Smith, 16, is being held at Forsyth County Detention Center on charges of possession of a handgun by a minor, assault by pointing a gun and possession of a firearm on educational property. The second man has been found, but his name has not been released, as police have not found evidence to connect him to the crime.

WFU students expressed concerns about the time gap between when the incident occurred and when they were alerted. UNC’s AlertCarolina system experienced a similar problem recently, when it took 40 minutes to send out an alert about a strangling on campus and included factual errors.

“We are undertaking a thorough review to determine what contributed to the delay,” WFU said in a statement. “Nothing is more important than the safety of our campus community and those visiting our campus, and we are committed to improving the timeliness of our warnings.”

Kayle Jordan, a WFU first-year, said the mood on campus has noticeably changed following the event.

“Police and security have increased since the weekend,” she said. “I feel a lot of reflection has taken place and a lot more awareness has been brought up. It has been, at least to me, a little more solemn.”

Despite the time gap in the alert system, she said the administration has been communicating a lot with the student body, and she feels they are handling the situation as best as they can.

A 2013 FBI report analyzing active shooter incidents from 2000 to 2013 found shootings have been steadily on the rise since 2000. Nearly a quarter of these incidents occurred at a school.

In response to these statistics, the N.C. General Assembly introduced a bill last year that would have allowed students at UNC-system schools or community colleges to carry concealed weapons. The bill was not passed.

North Carolina is not alone — other states have attempted to adopt similar legislation in recent years.

Following the introduction of these policies, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health released a study on campus firearms policy. The study concluded that increasing the availability of firearms to students could actually put them in more danger.

The investigation into the shooting at WFU is ongoing and police are trying to apprehend the third suspect.

“It’s so surreal that something like this would happen so close to where I now consider my home to be,” Jordan said. “It is such a tragedy and is one I hope from now on can be prevented as much as possible.”


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Anna Pogarcic

Anna Pogarcic is the editor-in-chief of The Daily Tar Heel. She is a senior at UNC-Chapel Hill studying journalism and history major. 

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