‘She was God’s gift to us:’ Family remembers nursing student murdered in Treme with vigil

Published: May. 17, 2023 at 12:54 AM CDT
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CHALMETTE, La. (WVUE) - Nursing student Ja’Diamond Jones, fatally shot last week at a Treme hookah lounge, was remembered by family and friends with a vigil on Tuesday (May 16).

Jones was supposed to walk across the graduation stage at Nunez Community College on Monday. Instead, loved ones are mourning her death. Jones was one of two women fatally shot outside the lounge on North Claiborne Avenue last Friday, and New Orleans police have made no arrests in connection to the killings.

Jones’ friends and relatives sent their messages toward the heavens on Tuesday, releasing a sea of pink balloons before the college’s nursing school pinning ceremony.

“God wanted her. God needed a smile,” said the victim’s father, Jerome Jones. “In my baby’s words, I hope she -- I’m about to sound crazy -- died on the first bullet. Because I know she would have fought like hell for Khaza.”

In the crowd was Khaza, Jones’ 2-year-old son. Jones’ grandmother Lillie Thompson says the baby is too young to understand what is going on, but she can tell he misses his mom.

“It’s just heartbreaking that this happened to her,” said Thompson. “Just because she was a young mother and she thought she couldn’t do it, that didn’t stop her. She prioritized her child. And it hurts so bad because she loved him dearly.”

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Classmates wrote messages to Jones on their balloons and shared stories of their time spent together.

“She was really proud of this,” said Jerome Jones. “She texted me, ‘Dad, you’ve got a nurse.’”

The family has taken offense to comments made by Mayor LaToya Cantrell about an increase in violence against women. They say Cantrell implied last week that Jones wasn’t an innocent victim when she spoke at a news conference about the number of women getting killed in New Orleans.

Twelve of the city’s first 101 homicide victims of 2023 have been women. Cantrell said after Friday’s double murder that the acts weren’t random and that women also play a role in violent activity in the city.

The mayor issued another statement Monday night, saying it’s time to put guns down, and that the violence women have experienced is an overdue cause for alarm.

“(Ja’Diamond) never found her way into trouble,” her father said. “She never found her way behind a police vehicle or around a police vehicle or nothing.

“Live y’all’s life like that. Leave it to me, I’ll cry for my baby. But don’t cry for her. She was happy. She was blessed. She was beautiful. And she was God’s gift to a lot of us.”

Those mourning her loss said they will turn to prayer to make it through.

“I’m definitely relying on my faith,” Thompson said. “If not, I wouldn’t be standing here, trust me.

“She didn’t deserve that. She didn’t deserve that at all. I just try and get a grasp that that really did happen to her.”

Police have not said whether they have developed a suspect or motive for the double homicide. The investigation remains active.

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