Victim of Sept. 21 Double Shooting Dies in Hospital

By Susan Kinzie
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Shalita Middleton, a former Woodrow Wilson Senior High School cheerleader who was shot at Delaware State University last month, died yesterday afternoon.

The teenager had been at Christiana Hospital in Delaware since she was rushed there Sept. 21 after an early morning shooting on campus, the first multiple shooting at a university since 33 students were slain at Virginia Tech in April.

Middleton, 17, of the District, was hit twice in the abdomen.

Nathaniel Pugh III, a freshman biology major also from the District, had been in the hospital for several weeks after being shot in the same incident. He has been released from the hospital but has not returned to classes at Delaware State, said Carlos Holmes, a spokesman for the university.

Another freshman, Loyer D. Braden, 18, of East Orange, N.J., was arrested in his dorm a few days after the shootings and charged with violations including attempted first-degree murder.

Middleton was never able to talk with police about the shooting, Holmes said, other than a few words as she was being put into the ambulance. "Her injuries were such that she was not able to talk to anyone much," he said. Her family had been hopeful of a recovery over the past weeks, he said, but in recent days her condition deteriorated.

Students had created a Facebook page with prayers for Middleton, a freshman biology major and a college cheerleader, whose nickname was Cookie. There are no plans yet for a memorial at Delaware State, Holmes said.

Her family issued a statement yesterday evening: "At approximately 3:30 p.m. today, Shalita K. Middleton passed from this world into God's arms. She struggled valiantly over the last several weeks and she was an inspiration to all of her friends both in Washington D.C. and in Delaware, as well as her family members, especially her mother Lavita and her father Tom. Ultimately, however, the internal injuries that she suffered were in the end too critical to overcome."

In a statement, Delaware State President Allen L. Sessoms said: "The DSU community is grieving and deeply saddened. . . . Our thoughts are with her family and friends at this most difficult time."

"I offer my condolences to the family and friends of Shalita," said Deborah A. Gist, the District's state superintendent of education. "It is always a tragedy when a young life is taken from us so soon. Shalita was a role model for the youth of the District of Columbia and her legacy will continue to inspire us."

Staff writer Theola Labb¿ contributed to this report.

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