‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’ Star Jonshel Alexander Fatally Shot In New Orleans, Murder Suspect Identified and Wanted

Jonshel Alexander, who starred in the award-winning film “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” and an unidentified man, were shot at the 1500 block of North Claiborne Avenue in New Orleans on Saturday, Nov. 27 at approximately 9 p.m. The murder suspect has not been identified, but there is a description of him and his vehicle. More will likely unfold as the story develops. 

Alexander was shot and the local coroner’s office in New Orleans declared her dead on-site. The man who was with Alexander who was also shot was able to drive himself to the hospital.

NEW ORLEANS, LA – JUNE 25: (L-R) Actresses Jonshel Alexander and Quvenzhane Wallis on the dance floor at Fox Searchlight Pictures Presents “Beasts of the Southern Wild” After Party on June 25, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Skip Bolen/Getty Images for Fox Searchlight Pictures)

Alexander played the character of Joy Strong when she was 12 years old, in the 2012 film directed by Benh Zeitlin. The film was cast and shot locally in New Orleans. “She was like, ‘I’m going to be in this movie. They fell in love with Jonshel,’ ” her mother, Shelly Alexander, said. 

Zeitlin had been impressed with Alexander, but couldn’t cast her in the lead role of Hushpuppy for the film as she was too old. “We incorporated a part into the film that was very much inspired by her. A lot of the lines were written by her, and so much of the character grew out of who Jonshel was. Her character in the film is named Joy Strong, which always seemed like a perfect description of Jonshel. She was a really bright burning light,” Zeitlin said. He has since reached out to Alexander’s family as he is devastated by the news of her sudden death. 

Jonshel Alexander (Photo: @wonderwombman/Instagram/Facebook)

Her murderer reportedly was caught via video surveillance along with his vehicle. He has yet to be identified, but the police have recovered the perpetrator’s get-away vehicle and will continue to investigate. In the video, the suspect is wearing a blue ski mask, tan pants and shirt. 

The local police department are on the hunt to find Alexander’s killer, but if anyone has any information in regards to the case, they have been encouraged to contact homicide detective Brittany Kimbrough at (504) 658-5300 or call Crimestoppers of Greater New Orleans Inc. anonymously at (504) 822-1111 or (877) 903-7867. 

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