Arrest made in shooting of WCU student

(FILE PHOTO) Western Carolina University. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

SUNDAY UPDATE: Another teenager has been arrested in this shooting, and both of the youths arrested are charged with attempted murder. Update here.


The Western Carolina University Police Department and the State Bureau of Investigation have confirmed the arrest Saturday of Aja Makalo, 19, of Charlotte, on a charge of attempted murder in the shooting of a WCU student late Friday night.

The arrest was made by the SBI in Charlotte. On Saturday, authorities said Makalo, a current WCU student, was being held under a $500,000 bond.

The shooting occurred around midnight on Friday, along Old Cullowhee Road adjacent to the campus.

WCU student Jacob Alexander Ray, 21, of Hendersonville sustained serious injuries in the incident and was transported to Mission Hospital in Asheville, where he remains in very serious condition.

University officials said they could not comment on the specifics of the incident or the charges, pending the outcome of the criminal case and other possible on-campus judicial action involving WCU’s Student Code of Conduct.

“We continue to keep Jacob in our thoughts and prayers, as well as his family and the families of everyone involved,” said WCU Chancellor David O. Belcher. “This incident has shocked and devastated people all across the WCU community and has reminded us that, even in a peaceful place like Cullowhee, tragic things can still occur. I am confident in the ability of our campus family to come together and support one another in times like these.”

Further details will be made available as the investigation continues.

Here is the university's statement:

University officials report that a shooting occurred late last night along Old Cullowhee Road adjacent to campus. A student sustained serious injuries in the incident and was transported directly to Mission Hospital in Asheville. Authorities are not releasing the name of the student pending notification of family.
Police believe there is no ongoing threat to the campus community as a result of this incident.
University Police are conducting an investigation with the assistance of the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department, which initially responded to the emergency call, the State Bureau of Investigation and the N.C. Highway Patrol. Law enforcement officials are searching for a black passenger vehicle, which may be occupied by two heavy-set black males, one of whom may be wearing a baseball cap. No further description or information is available at this time. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Western Carolina University Police Department at 828-227-7301.

Western Carolina University Chancellor David O. Belcher issued the following statement:

“We are deeply saddened by the news that one of our students was grievously injured in a shooting late last night near campus. Our university community is shocked and distressed, and our thoughts and prayers are with the injured student and his family and loved ones. The safety of our students is of paramount importance and violent acts such as this affect us all. The WCU police are doing everything they can to find those responsible. We will provide additional information to the campus community as soon as it becomes available.”

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