Nursing School Creates Scholarship in Honor of Nurse Killed on Her Way to Work

The city of Nashville, Tennessee is still in mourning over the death of ICU nurse Caitlyn Kaufman on December 3rd, 2020. Just 26 years old when she was shot dead on Interstate 440, she was reportedly on her way to work the night shift at St. Thomas West Hospital.

Two suspects have since been arrested in connection to her murder, but authorities say they are still searching for a possible motive.

To honor her life, locals are donating money to set up a new nursing scholarship. It’s one of the many ways the community is working to make sure her memory isn’t forgotten.

A Shooting on the Highway

Nurse Kaufman’s SUV was struck by at least six bullets on that fateful night. A local Metro Parks Officer first thought her car had crashed when he discovered the vehicle on the side of the highway. Upon investigating the scene, he discovered Kaufman dead in the front seat. A medical examiner found that a bullet had struck in the shoulder and that she died within seconds of being hit.

As for a motive, Detective Chris Dickerson, who’s in charge of the investigation, recently addressed reporters, saying, “We have some leads. Right now, there’s a lot of things that we’re working on and I can’t say for sure what it is, but we do have some ideas.”

The first suspect arrested was James Edward Cowan, 28, who was staying with his girlfriend. She admitted to harboring Cowan even though she knew he was wanted by the police. Authorities charged her with harboring a fugitive. At the time of the arrest, authorities found five grams of cocaine, half a pound of marijuana, 238 Xanax bars, and 56 Adderall pills. They also discovered two semi-automatic guns and 126 rounds of ammunition inside Cowan’s rental car.

The second arrested was Devaunte Lewis Hill, 21. An arrest affidavid shows that a concerned citizen told police that they had information about Kaufman’s murder. They later identified Hill as the person who shot Kaufman and that Cowan was on the scene at the time of the homicide. Cell phone data shows that both men were in the area when Kaufman was shot. They also believe the two men were together at the time. Authorities have also confirmed that neither of the men knew Kaufman.

Both are due in court later this month for hearings related to the charges.

Kaufman’s murder shocked the entire Nashville community. With no motive, locals have been left to speculate why she was killed while minding her own business. It’s possible that the killers mistook her car for someone else’s.

Honoring Kaufman’s Memory

To honor Kaufman’s passing, her former classmate is setting up a scholarship in her name at Butler County Community College in Western Pennsylvania. Kaufman graduated from the school’s nursing program in 2018. The school confirms it has already raised $13,000 for the award, with donations coming from four different states.

The scholarship will be known as the Caitlyn Kaufman ’18 Legacy Nursing Scholarship. The award will be endowed as soon as it reached $15,000.

According to Ruth Purcell, who recently retired as executive director of the group that will administer the scholarship, an endowed scholarship “exists forever.” 

“It is Caitlyn’s legacy that can be paid forward to other people who are going to step into the role that she was in and fill those shoes,” said Kiley Cribbs, who helped create the scholarship program.

President of Butler County Community College, Dr. Nicholas Neupauer, took a moment to remember Kaufman:

“I can tell you and the viewers in Nashville that we are heartbroken, Caitlyn represents the very best of our college. I think to get a full picture it would be important to give your audience a full representation of Butler. Although the steel industry declined in the 70s and into the early 80s, there are still remnants of that steel industry and the immigrants who came over to work in steel. These are people who have great pride in their community, give back to their community and are incredibly hard working; that was Caitlyn.”

He asked the community to keep Kaufman and her family in their thoughts and prayers.

If you’re interested in donating to the Kaufman Scholarship Fund, you can learn more about the program on the BC3 Education Foundation website.

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