North Carolina

College Football Player From Brooklyn Shot to Death At Party In North Carolina

A college football player from Brooklyn was shot to death at a party in North Carolina, police said Saturday.

Najee Ali Baker, a walk-on at Winston-Salem State University, was shot and killed at a party at Wake Forest University, about 9 miles away from his college, according to authorities. 

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.

Baker sat out the 2017 season after transferring from Dean College in Franklin, Massachusetts. The school's athletic website said Baker was a 6-foot, 1-inch 240-pound linebacker.

The Crown Heights native attended Abraham Lincoln High School in Coney Island and was a key player on the team's back-to-back championship seasons in 2013 and 2014.

"He was a tremendous teammate, a role model and a great person. He will be missed. Our hearts go out to his family. He will never be forgotten for the leadership and legacy he left behind at Lincoln HS," the school said in a statement.

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.

And during the winter break, former coaches said that Baker visited them and was excited about his chance to make an impact on the team. 

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.

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