Events at the Barn, an on-campus event site, may be coming back as early as this semester after a federal judge dismissed a case involving the site over the summer.
The lawsuit involved the shooting death of Winston-Salem State University student Najee Ali Baker on Jan. 20, 2018. Baker was attending a party at the Barn hosted by Delta Sigma Theta, which was named as a defendant in the lawsuit alongside Wake Forest University and assorted security staff members.
“In late 2014 and early 2015, WFU proposed new event management guidelines that would save the University money by sharply cutting law enforcement staffing and other security measures at The Barn,” the complaint, which was filed in federal court, alleges. “Police and professional security consultants openly warned against the proposed security cutbacks. One WFUPD officer publicly stated that a substantial police presence at The Barn was warranted given past dangerous incidents, including one melee involving six fights that required the already substantial police presence at the Barn to call for backup.”
The complaint also alleged that events held by minority groups received less security, citing a 2014 controversy on campus.
On Aug. 5, District Judge Catherine Eagles dismissed the case on the grounds that a gunman’s presence was not an obvious enough risk to prove negligence on the part of any defendants, according to Fox 8.
Baker’s family was less than pleased with the result.
“I feel my son, Najee Baker, has not received any justice at all,” Jemel Ali Dixon, Baker’s mother, told the Winston-Salem Journal. “I lost my son, my heart … (it) is the worst feeling for a parent to lose their child, especially when my son’s death could have been prevented.”
The family has appealed the decision to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. That process could drag on for months or even years.
Right now, there is no indication how events at the Barn will be better guarded, or if there will be any moratorium to honor the man who was lost there three years ago. COVID-19 concerns could also leave the barn shuttered if the virus gets out of hand.
According to VP for campus life penny rue, the university is still considering its process