A University of Louisville student was killed and five others were injured in a shooting early Sunday that interrupted a rap concert at the Tim Faulkner Gallery and sent hundreds of music fans scattering.
Off-duty Louisville Metro police officers responded to the sound of gunfire at 1:20 a.m. inside the concert hall, where they discovered Savannah Jeanne Walker dead of a gunshot wound and assisted the victims, police said. The wounded are expected to survive, police Lt. Emily McKinley said at a press conference Sunday.
Police first to the scene were working security for the concert by the New York City rap star known as A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie.
“She went out with her friends,” McKinley said. “They got dressed up. When the shots rang out, everyone took off and ran.”
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She appealed to the public to report leads to police.
“Please reach out to us. There is a lot of chatter on social media,” McKinley said. “If you were at this concert, help us provide justice to these victims.”
University of Louisville professor Kaila Adia Story knew Walker and said she cared deeply about politics, equality and women’s issues.
“Savannah was a great student. My heart breaks for her family and her,” she said in an interview Sunday.
Story added the young debate squad member excelled in two courses she taught about women’s issues and politics.
“She was going to do great things. She was an innocent bystander,” Story said.
Rated Louisville’s Best Art Gallery last year, the Tim Faulkner venue at 1512 Portland Avenue was one of the first establishments to herald a still-gentrifying Portland when it opened in 2012. Its brick walls lined with art, the cavernous space measures 26,000 square feet, hosting McQuixote Books & Coffee and artists studios.
In the few years since the Tim Faulkner Gallery relocated from NuLu, to Butchertown, and then to Portland, the Portland Avenue corridor has transformed from a bleak stretch of vacant or boarded-up buildings to a boulevard of creative start-up enterprises. As a result, the cultural center has become central to the revitalization of the Portland neighborhood in recent years.
Next door to the gallery, Core Design, a business that fabricates trendy buildings from shipping containers moved into a lot that once housed a scrapyard. Across the street, the nonprofit Louisville Grows Healthy House headquarters — a new building dedicated to urban gardening — will be unveiled this coming week. A block west on Portland Avenue, The Table restaurant was featured recently on Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives on the Food Network.
The performance space where the shooting took place occupies 10,000 square feet of the rambling warehouse. There are no metal detectors. Asked about security, Chris Meinhart, the lawyer for Tim Faulkner Gallery, declined to comment on Sunday.
The legal age for entry to the concert is 21, McKinley said. Walker was 20 years old and born in 1996, according to police. She was a stellar student, said Ricky L. Jones, chairman of the department of Pan-African Studies at the University of Louisville.
“This is a kid who was doing everything right and she was still killed,” Jones said. “It is not a good day for us.”
Walker’s slaying came a month after the death of her mother on Feb. 18, McKinley said. Still stricken by that loss, Jones said Walker decided not to travel with her university debate squad to a meet out of town this weekend. Instead, she chose to stay close to home. Walker’s father did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment. Deborah T. Walker was 69 when she died of pancreatic cancer in February. Savannah Walker delivered her mother’s eulogy and promptly set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for a scholarship campaign in her mother’s honor.
“The only reason she didn’t go to the debate tournament is because she was dealing with the death of her mother,” Jones said. “It was a useless and senseless loss of life. You are talking about a kid who was the package … of strong intellectual horsepower and great charisma.”
A crowd estimated to number in the hundreds scattered so quickly that police are searching for clues, McKinley said. She urged that anyone associated with the event forward tips, photos and other information to help police solve the homicide.