Joycelyn Bland

Joycelyn Bland

Police have arrested a 26-year-old man in the killing of Joycelyn Bland, a mother of three who was shot to death last week after what a witness said was an argument in a 7th Ward home.

Tajee Donaldson was jailed on counts of second degree murder, trespassing and other related charges for allegedly gunning down Bland, 40, in the 2400 block of Allen Street June 2 at about 9 p.m., according to the New Orleans Police Department.

A native of New Orleans East who grew up in the Little Woods neighborhood, Bland graduated from Alcee Fortier High School where she was a track star, according to her mother, Michelle Bland-Anderson.

She worked at Dave & Buster's downtown but her passion was doing hair on the side, said her mother, who added that Bland mostly enjoyed spending time with her two boys, 17 and 12, and girl, 9.

"She could do it all," Bland-Anderson said. 

A fight turned fatal

According to a police affidavit, Bland's three children lost their mom because of Donaldson, whom Bland had recently started dating.

On June 2, police officers responding to a 911 call found Bland at the house on Allen Street suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. A roommate of the couple told police that Donaldson, whose name was on the lease, kicked Bland out of the house a day earlier because of relationship problems.

Bland came back to the house on Friday, and she and Donaldson argued for most of the afternoon, the roommate told detectives.

That night, the roommate heard Bland call for him. He went into the kitchen to find her lying on her back, holding on to Donaldson's hair. 

Donaldson threatened to shoot Bland if she didn't let go, according to the roommate. The roommate said he tried to separate the couple, but Donaldson allegedly pulled out a gun and shot Bland three times, police wrote in the affidavit.

Donaldson then allegedly ran out of the house and tried to get the roommate to leave, too, according to the documents. The roommate refused and called authorities. 

While the roommate was at the police station for an interview, Donaldson called him. He answered and put the phone on speaker so that detectives could listen. According to the affidavit, Donaldson asked the roommate why he didn't leave with him and insisted Bland was the aggressor in the fight. 

Donaldson was arrested in Hollygrove Thursday morning.

Bland's mother said she is devastated and confused at her daughter's killing because she didn't know about the relationship with Donaldson. But she is glad Donaldson has been arrested. 

"If you (were) her boyfriend, why?" Bland-Anderson said. "You're supposed to love her, not kill her." 

Caring for her children

As they grieve Bland's death, her family is mostly concerned about the children she left behind, Bland-Anderson said. The children had been staying partly with their paternal grandmother in Mid-City, but her house burned down a few weeks ago. 

Luckily, the Red Cross has helped and they are housed in a hotel for the time being, according to Bland-Anderson. 

"They are really going through it," Bland-Anderson said. "Now that they don't have a mother, they don't have a home either."

Bland-Anderson said her faith in God keeps her going.

"She's in good hands now. I (don't have) to worry about nobody ever touching my child," she said. 

Bland was the ninth woman shot dead in less than two months in New Orleans.

Email Gabriella Killett at or follow her on Twitter, @GEKillett.