College athlete from Gary killed in Louisiana

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Annette January, 19, of Gary, Ind., was a student at Southern University in Louisiana. (Family photo) (WLS)

A 19-year-old Gary native who was a freshman athlete at Southern University was fatally shot during an off-campus party in Baton Rouge, La.

Annette January, a graduate of Thea Bowman Leadership Academy in Gary, was with friends from the track and field team early Sunday when a verbal altercation started among a group of men, said her mother, Dawn January. Some of the men left and then returned and opened fire on the party, she said.

Annette, along with her friend, Lashuntae Benton, 19, of Lake Charles, La., were struck and killed, according to the university. Benton was a sophomore athletic trainer. A 24-year-old man was shot and wounded.

No one has been charged in the death of the two women.

However, Sunday night, Ernest Bernard Felton, 24, of Miami, Fla., was charged with attempted second-degree murder and illegal use of a weapon in connection to the shooting of the 24-year-old man, according to Baton Rouge police. Police said Felton and the 24-year-old man were exchanging gunfire.

The university said the shooting occurred outside an apartment complex near the campus of Louisiana State University.

Annette January, 19, of Gary, Ind., was a student at Southern University in Louisiana.

According to her recruiting profile, Annette wanted to study criminal psychology. She graduated last year from Bowman as salutatorian. She was also a star athlete, earning more than 100 track and field medals.

Annette had earned a full-ride scholarship to Southern University and was scheduled to return home to Gary for summer break.

"She was every parent's dream. A student, honor roll. Everywhere she won, came out a winner, came out on top," said Treniece Hurt, a family friend.

Her mother flew to Baton Rouge when she received news of her daughter's death.

On Sunday, her family said they are devastated.

"She was an angel. Everybody she talked to just loved her and I'm going to miss her. I just wish it was a nightmare," said cousin Brittany Moss.

"Her last words were, 'Tell my family that I love them,'" said cousin Beverly Napier.

Southern University System President Ray L. Belton released a statement expressing "deep sadness," adding that an investigation is ongoing. The University asks for prayers and support for the families at this difficult time."
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