WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — A North Carolina college football player from Brooklyn was shot to death at a party on another campus, police said Saturday.
According to a statement from Winston-Salem police, its officers responded to a call from Wake Forest University for assistance after a report of a gunshot on campus.
Responding officers found 21-year-old Najee Ali Baker, a walk-on linebacker at Winston-Salem State University. Baker was taken to a local hospital, where he died from a gunshot wound.
Wake Forest and Winston-Salem State are 9 miles apart.
The Winston-Salem Journal reports an email from Wake Forest President Nathan Hatch said Baker was shot during a fight at a party in The Barn, which Wake Forest officials describe as a student-centered social space that hosts concerts, speakers and various celebrations.
It was a dream come true for this Brooklyn kid to play college ball. And before that, Baker was a proud member of the 2015 championship team at Abraham Lincoln High School in Brooklyn.
Former teammate Jordan Nicholson told PIX11 he feels lost after the death of Baker. Baker wasn’t just his high school teammate, he was his best friend.
“I’m just blinking my eyes wondering is it really real,” Nicholson said. “Is it really real?”
Winston-Salem State Coach Kienus Boulware told the newspaper he was shocked at the phone call he received early Saturday.
“I was shocked when I got the call and as a coach you never want to get this kind of call,” Boulware said, adding that he had to notify Baker’s father.
“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,” Boulware said. “We are all really shocked by this because he was a quiet guy and a great teammate.”
The coach said Baker would have been a contributor on the defensive line in the 2018 season, which would have been the first of his three years of eligibility at Winston-Salem State, a historically black university in the central part of the state.
Police say the shooting appears to be an isolated incident. No arrests have been made so far. Winston-Salem police and officers from the two schools are investigating the incident.