MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - A heartbroken Minneapolis family insists they will never be the same after the gunman who shot and killed 28-year-old Jenna Heilman was sentenced to more than 28 years in prison Thursday.
Sherman Alexander pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, and admitted he opened fire after a fight inside a popular downtown Minneapolis bar spilled outside. But Alexander is also a suspect in another high-profile, still unsolved shooting in the city.
“Jenna was not supposed to die,” her aunt, Jill Johnson, said. “She was only 28. There’s no reason for this. It’s stupid. It’s dumb. It’s idiotic.”
Alexander admitted in court that what started as a melee inside the bar over a stolen bottle of alcohol spilled outside. He went to his car to get his handgun and fired 10 shots. Jenna Heilman was not his intended target – rather, he was aiming for her date that night.
Heilman died from her injuries more than 7 weeks later, after an agonizing fight for survival.
“I just want people to know that when you put a gun in your hand and then pull the trigger 10 times, you are going to hurt someone,” Johnson said. “You are going to kill someone.”
Alexander apologized in court, calling his decision that night a big mistake and describing nightly prayers for forgiveness.
But this isn’t the first gun violence case linked to Sherman Alexander. He has been called a suspect in a still unsolved road rage incident last year in Minneapolis.
The victim in that case has told investigators that 3 men fired at her car after she honked her horn. That case is still under investigation.
Jenna Heilman’s family hopes something positive can come from Alexander’s nearly 30-year prison sentence.
“I just want people to know when you take law into your own hands, now he’s looking at 28 -- 28 and a half years -- that he can think about what he did,” Johnson said. “I’m hoping to God he can change while he’s there.”