Former child actress Jonshel Alexander who starred in the 2012 Oscar-nominated film Beasts of the Southern Wild was shot and killed in New Orleans on Saturday (November 27), police confirmed.
According to local reports, law enforcement officials say Alexander was with a man inside of a car in New Orleans’ 7th Ward around 9 p.m. on Saturday when a shooter allegedly opened fire on them both. One news outlet reported that the man she was with was the gunman’s intended target.
Paramedics declared Alexander dead at the scene while the man drove himself to a nearby hospital, The Associated Press reported.
So far, investigators have located a maroon pickup truck they believe the gunman used, according to The New Orleans Times-Picayune.
Alexander’s family first heard news of the actress’ friend being shot, but when they tried to reach her, they knew something was wrong.
“So when I got the phone call (confirming her death), I just dropped to my knees. I didn’t know what to think,” Shelley Alexender, Jonshel’s mother, told 4WWL News.
Jonshel’s father, Johnny Alexander, found out about his daughter’s death at work.
“Right then and there I just froze,” he told the outlet. “I just stood still for like two hours. I couldn’t do anything. Because that was my baby girl.”
“I’m going to miss her so much,” Jonshel’s friend Terryal Rogers said. “She was everything to us. She was like that missing puzzle that in our gang that we needed.”
Jonshel leaves behind a one-year-old daughter.
Alexander landed the role of “Joy Strong” at the age of 12, beating out 4,000 other Louisiana natives in the Benh Zeitlin-directed film. She starred alongside Quvenzhané Wallis. The film went on to win at the Cannes and Sundance Film Festivals, and was nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
Anyone with information is being asked to contact Homicide Detective Brittany Kimbrough at 504-658-5300 or call CRIMESTOPPERS at 822-1111.
Reading about Black trauma can have an impact on your mental health. If you or someone you know need immediate mental health help, text “STRENGTH” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor. These additional resources are also available:
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255
The National Alliance on Mental Illness 1-800-950-6264
The Association of Black Psychologists 1-301-449-3082
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America 1-240-485-1001
For more mental health resources, click HERE.