WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- A man wanted in the death of a Winston-Salem State University football player who was shot and killed at an event at Wake Forest University in late January has been arrested.
Jakier Shanique Austin, 21, was arrested on Wednesday at a home in Charlotte. He has been charged with murder, possession of a stolen firearm, and carrying a concealed gun. He was moved to the Forsyth County Jail on Friday.
Police responded to The Barn, an event center on Wake Forest University’s campus, around 1 a.m. on Jan. 20 after a gunshot was fired.
Police say Austin shot Najee Ali Baker, 21, after an argument. Baker died from his injuries at a local hospital.
Nearly three months later, Winston-Salem State University is enjoying beautiful spring afternoons. For some students, it feels a lifetime away from the snowy day on Wake Forest’s campus when Baker was killed.
Two freshman students, Asia Simmons and Shavon Wilcher, reflected on the night they attended the party, an event hosted by the Pi Omicron chapter of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., a Wake Forest University student organization.
“We didn’t see who it was at first,” they said. “We just saw [Baker] on the ground in the snow. It was just a lot of chaos. A lot of people running around. Once we heard a gunshot, everybody started running. We were in the woods. We didn’t know where to go.”
Simmons and Wilcher spent Thursday afternoon under the Winston-Salem State clock tower, the same spot where they attended a vigil for Baker three months ago.
“Coming back, I didn’t want to talk to anyone. I was scared. It was very traumatic,” Wilcher said.
“For a while, we really didn’t go out. We just kind of stayed in our rooms, stayed with each other,” Simmons said.
“We haven’t really been to a party since,” Wilcher added.
The mood on campus has picked up since January. Graduation is just weeks away and students are celebrating with pictures, music and dancing.
“I feel better for the family knowing justice is being served,” said Damion Swittenberg, a WSSU senior.
But many students still have questions for officers about what happened that night at The Barn.
“I just don’t see how it happened, because there were like a lot of police in that parking lot,” Simmons said.
Austin was also a student at Winston-Salem State until last fall, the same semester WSSU officials say Baker transferred to the university.
“This is not Winston-Salem State,” Swittenberg said. “Gun violence is not a normal thing, even though you might see it on the news, you might see it going on quite frequently. This is not what we do.”
Now, the campus is working to maintain its identity, while honoring the Ram that they lost.
“It’s sad that it takes a death, for somebody to die, to actually bring people together, but if I had to pick something good out of it, that would be it,” Wilcher said. “It most definitely brought Winston-Salem State University together.”
“Martin Luther King [Jr.] said, ‘The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands in times of change and controversy,’” Swittenberg said. “So right now, it’s really how we get up and stand against what happened.”
Austin is being held in the Mecklenburg County Detention Center on no bond. They’re working with local authorities to arrange transport back to the Triad, so Austin can appear in Forsyth County Court.
Malik Patience Smith, 16, has also been charged in connection with Baker’s death. Smith allegedly pulled out a gun and held Baker’s friends at by while Austin fired the shot at Baker.
Smith faces charges of possession of a handgun by a minor, assault by pointing a gun and possession of a firearm on educational property.