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Salem High graduate dies 2 days after Roanoke shooting

Salem High graduate dies 2 days after Roanoke shooting


For friends of Jacob Aldridge, the world became a less fashionable place on Thursday.

“He stayed with Gucci on 24/7,” Von Saunders, 19, recalled about Aldridge, who was shot on a northeast Roanoke street Tuesday night.

Aldridge, 19, died Thursday just after 9 a.m. at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital, police spokeswoman Caitlyn Cline said in a statement.

Guess shirt, Gucci shoes — photos of Aldridge on social media show a teenager with his own suave style. Leather jacket, hiking boots. Or in New York Knicks shorts, his arms draped around two female friends at the Salem Fair.

“His sense of style was unbeaten,” said Ryan Woods, 19, of Roanoke. “He was a goofy, fun-loving guy and always made sure everyone else had a good time. Just his simple presence could light up a room.”

Aldridge graduated last year from Salem High School, where he played basketball and baseball. He was enrolled at Virginia Western Community College in business administration for the fall 2017 semester but had not taken classes in the spring or summer, according to a spokesman there.

Aldridge worked basketball tournaments with his father at the Spectrum Sports Academy in Roanoke, the center said on its Facebook page.

He was an avid Knicks and New York Yankees fan, Saunders said.

Police are investigating Aldridge’s death as a homicide and have not released many details about the case. No arrests have been made.

Some friends said earlier that they didn’t know what brought Aldridge to the 1600 block of Eastern Avenue on Tuesday night. He was shot in front of the same house that was the site of a home invasion and shooting in November.

Cline said police do not think the two incidents are related.

“The nature of the shooting and what led up to it is still under investigation,” Cline said.

She said she could not answer whether Aldridge was with anyone at the time of the shooting.

Neighbors said they heard anywhere from seven to 15 shots fired sometime before 10 p.m. Tuesday. Nearby residents were temporarily evacuated while police investigated.

Police found Aldridge in a gold Mercedes with a gunshot wound to the back of his head. Police aren’t saying whether he was the driver.

Police spent Wednesday morning poring over and retrieving evidence around the Mercedes, parked askew on a lawn. Photos on Aldridge’s social media accounts show him leaning on a gold Mercedes S 500 with the same license plate.

In conversations with those who knew Aldridge, a phrase that kept appearing was “kind-hearted.”

“He was a caring young man and he had a great heart for people,” recalled Wes McMillian, who coached Aldridge in baseball at Salem High. “What I remember most was he would always shake my hand when he came to practice, and he would always shake my hand when he left practice.”

Aldridge played junior varsity baseball his freshman year and then quit before returning his senior year, McMillian said. It wasn’t a typical path, and most coaches wouldn’t sign on a senior who hadn’t played on the team recently. But Aldridge had proven his ability, McMillian said.

At a baseball banquet in May 2017, “Jake stood up and talked about his [stepdad] and the baseball program and what it meant to him to come back and play,” said McMillian, who added that Aldridge’s stepfather was also a coach, and that the two had an almost brotherly relationship. “He was so emotional about being able to play his last year, and how we gave him a chance.”

Aldridge’s death marks the city’s fifth homicide of 2018.

Police ask anyone with information about the case to call their tip line at 344-8500. Callers may remain anonymous. Those with information can also send an anonymous text message to 274637 using the keyword RoanokePD at the beginning and referencing case number 18-076345.

Staff writer Matt Chittum contributed to this report.


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