'Beasts of the Southern Wild' Actress Jonshel Alexander Shot and Killed at 22: Reports

Former child actress Jonshel Alexander, who appeared alongside Quvenzhané Wallis in 2012's Beasts of the Southern Wild, was shot and killed Saturday in New Orleans

Jonshel Alexander
Photo: Skip Bolen/Getty

Former child actress Jonshel Alexander, who appeared in the Oscar-nominated 2012 film Beasts of the Southern Wild, was reportedly shot and killed in Louisiana over the weekend. She was 22.

Police said Alexander was with a man inside a car in New Orleans' 7th ward at 9 p.m. on Saturday when an assailant allegedly shot them both, according to the Associated Press, The Hollywood Reporter, and The New Orleans Times-Picayune.

Paramedics declared Alexander dead on the scene, while the man drove himself to the hospital, AP reports.

Investigators said they have located a vehicle of interest, a maroon pickup truck that they suspect was used by the killer, per the Times-Picayune.

The New Orleans Police Department did not immediately return PEOPLE's request for comment.

At age 12, Alexander landed the supporting role of Joy Strong in Beasts of the Southern Wild, beating out some 4,000 people for one of the primary roles, according to THR.

The film, focused on an impoverished bayou community located outside of New Orleans' storm levee system, was notable for featuring several non-actors native to Louisiana for the principal roles.

Beasts went on to nab top honors at the Cannes and Sundance Film Festivals, as well as four Academy Award nominations including one for Best Picture and one for star Quvenzhané Wallis, who became the youngest-ever nominee for a Best Lead Actress Oscar.

RELATED VIDEO: 5 Things to Know: Slain Ex-New Orleans Saints Star Will Smith

Alexander's mother Shelly Alexander said on Tuesday that the Beasts filmmakers "fell in love with" her late daughter.

"She was like, 'I'm going to be in this movie,'" her mother remembered, per the Times-Picayune. "They fell in love with Jonshel."

Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Sign up forPEOPLE's free True Crime newsletter for breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases.

Shelly continued, "She brought life to everything. Jonshel was feisty, jazzy, spoiled. It was her way or no way. Jonshel was like, 'It's going to be me.' "

Beasts director Benh Zeitlin described Alexander as an "absolute one-of-a-kind, unforgettable, force-of-nature human being," adding: "She was a really bright burning light."

Zeitlin, who has been in touch with Alexander's family since hearing about the shooting, said he was completely devastated to hear of her death, as reported by ABC News.

In addition to her mother and siblings, Alexander is reportedly survived by her 1-year-old daughter, De-vynne Robinson.

Related Articles