Woman caught in Mpls. gunfire dies

Woman hit by stray bullet dies

MINNEAPOLIS - Jenna Heilman spent 54 days fighting for her life in the Intensive Care Unit at Hennepin County Medical Center.

On Saturday, her family finally had to say goodbye.

"She was just Gentle Jenna....She was just one in a million...We lost a good one," said Heilman's aunt, Jill Johnson.

Johnson says there wasn’t day that family members were not at Heilman's bedside since the Labor Day weekend shooting that landed her there.

"He didn't know her. He had no right to shoot her. He didn't know what was going on in her life. He didn't know how many people loved her. Does it make me angry? A lot of things make me angry but you have no control over it," Johnson said.

Early Labor Day morning, Heilman was leaving a downtown Minneapolis bar when gunfire erupted. Two people were shot. Heilman was caught in the gunfire. A stray .45 caliber bullet hit her in the hip and passed through her organs.

“It’s sick when you get into a routine in the hospital. You know you’ve been there way too long,” Johnson said. “The doctors rounds would come at 9, you wanted to hear from them but you dreaded what they would say.”

Police arrested 31-year-old Sherman Dewhite Alexander after they saw him running from the scene and later spotted hiding in the backseat of a nearby car. Alexander was booked in to the Hennepin County jail for multiple assault charges. On Monday, less than 48 hours after Jenna’s death, those charges we upgraded to three counts of second degree murder.

Johnson, with the blessing of Heilman's mother, wanted to share her story because of what they call, the senseless gun and gang violence that is affecting innocent people.

Heilman's family is holding a gathering at the Fred Babcock VFW Post at 6715 Lakeshore Drive in Richfield. Johnson says they didn’t want it to be a funeral, rather have friends and family come and just share stories from 1 to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

“She loved her hair. She loved her nails and she loved being a girl. I will remember those sparkly nails.” Johnson says. “That is how I will remember her. With love.”

Jenna’s family has also set up a GoFundMe page to help with medical expenses.


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