Tragedy Strikes Northwestern State University: Football Season Canceled, Coach Resigns After Student-Athlete’s Death

A Tragic Loss: Northwestern State Mourns the Passing of Football Player Ronnie Caldwell


NATCHITOCHES, La. – Northwestern State University (NSU) is reeling from the tragic loss of junior safety Ronnie Caldwell, whose life was cut short in a senseless act of violence. The 21-year-old football player, hailing from Manor, Texas, was fatally shot multiple times in the early hours of a Thursday morning (Oct. 12, 2023) near NSU’s campus. The Natchitoches Parish Coroner’s Office confirmed his passing, and a sense of grief has enveloped the Northwestern State community.

The shooting occurred on October 12, 2023 at approximately 1:08 a.m. local time on University Parkway, sending shockwaves through the campus and its vicinity. Local law enforcement authorities are actively investigating the incident. Natchitoches Police Department did recently announce the arrest of Maurice Campbell II, 22, of Memphis, in connection with the death of Ronnie Caldwell. Campbell was a teammate of Caldwell and had appeared in four games this season for the Demons.

Caldwell, who transferred to NSU from Tyler Junior College and was an Austin, Texas native, had already started 10 games for the Demons in 2022. Despite a fall camp injury sidelining him for the 2023 season, Caldwell remained deeply involved with the football program and was widely regarded as a leader both on and off the field.

NSU, led by sixth-year head coach Brad Laird, decided to cancel their previous game against Nicholls as a result of Caldwell’s tragic passing. Today, the university has made a final decision about the remainder of the 2023 football season.

In a statement provided by the university, Coach Laird expressed the immense loss the Northwestern State family is facing, stating, “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. The respect our football team had for Ronnie was evident.”

NSU’s President Marcus D. Jones also offered condolences to Ronnie’s family and friends, adding, “The entire NSU community shares in your grief and sorrow.”

On a grim note, the NSU community received additional shocking news when the Natchitoches Police Department arrested John McIntosh, 27, of Natchitoches, for possession of a firearm in the presence of a controlled dangerous substance. McIntosh was the roommate of Ronnie Caldwell. It is unclear if his arrest is directly connected to Caldwell’s death.

In the wake of these tragic events, NSU President Marcus D. Jones issued a heartfelt message to the Northwestern State community. He announced that the university has decided to cancel the remainder of the 2023 football season, acknowledging the deep grief and pain that have gripped the team. President Jones expressed that the football program’s return is anticipated for the 2024 season, ensuring that the student-athletes, coaches, and staff have the necessary support and counseling during this challenging period.

Additionally, in the wake of this decision, Brad Laird, who was profoundly affected by Ronnie Caldwell’s death, expressed his desire to step away from his role as the head football coach at NSU. The university has accepted his resignation, and Assistant Head Coach and Defensive Coordinator Weston Glaser will serve as the interim head coach.

President Jones thanked the entire Northwestern State community, including the team, family, friends, and loyal fans, for their unwavering support during this difficult time. He emphasized that some events are larger than football and that the university’s commitment is first and foremost to the wellbeing of its people.

The NSU community is united in grief as they mourn the loss of Ronnie Caldwell, a cherished member of their family, and they will continue to support one another during this challenging journey.

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