NEW ORLEANS -- Family, friends and classmates of a social worker who graduated from Tulane University gathered Wednesday night in Treme to honor her memory.
Ashley Qualls, 25, was shot and killed Tuesday morning on the neutral ground near N. Roman and Esplande Avenue walking home from work.
“I can’t feel,” said Victoria Royal, Qualls’ best friend. “I don’t know what happened. It’s very hard for me.”
At a candlelight vigil, friends and family tried to comfort each other on the Esplanade Avenue neutral ground where the 25-year-old was gunned down. They’re attempting to make sense of her senseless death.
“This is a girl who was just trying to serve the poor, and if we can’t protect those helping the poor, how can we protect the poor who are disenfranchised?” said Chris Gross, who organized the vigil.
Friends say Qualls, who worked three jobs to help support her siblings, had moved to New Orleans from South Carolina in search of better opportunities.
“She was a prominent social justice proponent and she wanted to change New Orleans,” Royal said.
Just after midnight Monday, Qualls was walking to her Uptown to save money when, according to police, witnesses heard screaming and spotted three men on bicycles riding from the scene.
Police say Qualls was found lying on her back. She died at the scene.
“We need to take our city back,” said Treme resident David Dillard. “That’s what need to happen.”
This memorial marked the spot where the young woman died. It quickly glowed bright with candles and Qualls’ signature shoe, which still brings smiles to the faces of those who knew her at Tulane University’s School of Social Work.
“Her hiking through the school in those high heel stiletto heels,” said Tulane University Social Work Dean Dr. Ronald Marks.
Qualls was described by friends as a hard working, loving woman, taken too soon from a world she’d hoped to make better.
“She didn’t deserve that,” Royal said. “This is not the way she should have left here.”
The NOPD is investigating this latest murder. So far, no arrests have been made.
A fund has been set up to help Qualls' family cover the costs of returning her to South Carolina for burial. Click here if you’d like to help.