Northwestern State football player shot and killed near campus, coach calls it 'a tremendous loss'

Updated Oct. 12, 2023 6:50 p.m. ET

NATCHITOCHES, La. (AP) — A Northwestern State University football player was shot and killed early Thursday near an apartment complex not far from campus in Natchitoches, police said.

Ronald Caldwell, a 21-year-old junior from Austin, Texas, was found dead with multiple gunshot wounds by Natchitoches police officers who responded shortly after 1 a.m. to a report of a shooting. The coroner's office pronounced Caldwell dead at the scene.

No arrests have been made, said Cpl. John Greely, a spokesperson for the department.

“This investigation is ongoing and the Natchitoches Police Department will release more details as they become available," the department said in a statement on Facebook.


The university canceled Saturday’s football game at Nicholls State University as a result of the shooting. Decisions regarding future football games will be made as the season progresses, the school said.

“The Northwestern State family has suffered a tremendous loss,” head football coach Brad Laird said in a statement. “Ronnie Caldwell was a young man who had a bright future ahead of him on or off the football field.

“He was our voice in the locker room. When Ronnie spoke, others listened,” Laird said. “The respect our football team had for Ronnie was evident.”

Caldwell played safety for the Demons after transferring from Tyler Junior College following the 2021 football season. In 2022, he appeared in all 11 games, starting 10, and finished seventh on the team in tackles.

He had yet to play in a game this fall because of a preseason injury. Still, he traveled with the team, serving as a de facto defensive assistant coach and communicating with coaches up in the press box via headset during games, the university said in a statement.

University President Marcus Jones praised Caldwell's dedication to the community, noting how he spent the summer coaching a local youth baseball team.

Both Laird and Jones offered condolences to Caldwell's family and friends. Jones added that counseling and other support would be made available for all students, faculty and staff who need it.