Telenovela star and former Miss Venezuela Monica Spear was shot and killed with her ex-husband during a highway robbery; they leave behind a 5-year-old daughter Credit: ANDREW ALVAREZ/AFP/Getty Images

Tragic news out of Venezuela: Telenovela star and former beauty queen Monica Spear was shot and killed during a highway robbery on the Valencia-Puerto Cabella highway, police said Tuesday, Jan. 7. She was 29 years old.

Spear was on vacation with her ex-husband, Henry Thomas Berry, in Caracas, Venezuela, when they got into a minor accident that stranded their gray Toyota Corolla on Monday, officials told NBC News. Armed men approached the car and opened fire after the couple locked themselves inside with their 5-year-old daughter. 

Both Spear and her ex, 39, were killed in the incident. Their little girl, Maya, was shot in the leg; she survived.

"To think there are people who can shoot a mother and father in front of their daughter is very sad and unbelievable," Diego Sanchez, who knew the family for six years, told NBC. "And it's shocking when it happens to someone you know."

Described by a friend as a "really happy, outgoing person," Spear was crowned Miss Venezuela in 2005. She later went on to appear in a half-dozen soap operas, most recently Telemundo's Pasion Prohibida and Flor Salvaje.

Her costar, Jencarlos Canela, mourned her death via Twitter. "I'm without words," he wrote. "I will miss my friend @MonicaSpear. And I love you, beautiful Maya. You are not alone!"