Malik Patience Smith, left, and Jakier Shanique Austin (copy)

Smith

A football player at Winston-Salem State University died two months ago from a gunshot wound to his abdomen, an autopsy report shows.

Najee Ali Baker, 21, of Brooklyn, N.Y., was shot about 1 a.m on Jan. 20 while attending a sorority party at The Barn at Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem police said. The Barn is an events center near Piccolo and Palmer residence halls.

Baker was taken to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, where efforts to save his life were unsuccessful and he was pronounced dead.

The autopsy also showed that Baker sustained abrasions and bruises on his face and both knees. Before the shooting, a fight involving several people happened inside The Barn.

Authorities declined to say what the fight was about or whether Baker was involved in it.

Baker had transferred to WSSU in 2017 from Dean College in Franklin, Mass., to play football. Jay Davis, a spokesman for WSSU, declined to comment on the autopsy report.

“The WFU community remains saddened by the tragic death of Najee Ali Baker,” Katie Neal, a WFU spokeswoman, said Monday in a statement.

Police Lt. Michael Cardwell said Monday that police are still investigating the case.

Police are looking for Jakier Shanique Austin, 21, of Winston-Salem in connection with Baker’s death. Austin was enrolled as an undergraduate student at WSSU in 2017.

A Forsyth County magistrate has issued arrest warrants charging Austin with murder and possession of a firearm on educational property, police said.

Winston-Salem police are working with the U.S. Marshals Service to find and arrest Austin, Cardwell said. He declined to comment further on the case.

During their investigation, police also arrested Malik Patience Smith, 16, of West 14th Street in Winston-Salem, and charged him with possession of a handgun by a minor, assault by pointing a gun and possession of a firearm on educational property, police said.

Smith was being held Monday in the Forsyth County Jail with his bond set at $110,000, the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office said.

The charges against Smith are in connection with an incident related to the shooting at Wake Forest, police said. A 24-year-old man was the victim of an assault in which a gun was pointed at him, police said.

During the fight inside The Barn, partygoers spilled outdoors. Smith was seen by a witness going to a car to retrieve a gun, District Attorney Jim O’Neill said at Smith’s court hearing in late January.

“He (Smith) goes back to where the victim was,” O’Neill said. “A shot was fired and this defendant was seen running back to the car followed by (Jakier Shanique) Austin, who was wearing a red sweatshirt and red shoes, and they left campus.”

“This defendant (Smith) was seen by a Winston-Salem State football player who was with Najee, “ O’Neill said.

“He pulled his gun, sort of keeping the crowd and friends of Najee Baker at bay while (Austin) fired a shot at Baker. … this defendant pointed a gun at the crowd while a murder was taking place.”

Cardwell and WFU encouraged anyone who has information that could lead to Austin’s arrest to call Winston-Salem police at 336-773-7700.

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jhinton@wsjournal.com 336-727-7299 @jhintonWSJ

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