People attend a community rally for seven-year-old Jazmine Barnes on Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019 in Houston. Barnes was killed when a driver shot into the car she and her family were driving in last Sunday. (Melissa Phillip/Houston Chronicle via AP)

Man charged with murder in death of U.S. girl, 7

Girl’s family thought the shooting had been racially motivated

A black man was arrested and charged with murder in the killing of a 7-year-old black girl in a drive-by shooting that authorities said Sunday appeared to be a case of mistaken identity, not a racially motivated attack, as her family feared.

Jazmine Barnes’ family had described the gunman in the Dec. 30 slaying as a white man driving a red pickup, and believed race played a role in the shooting.

But acting on a tip received by a civil rights activist, the sheriff’s department zeroed in instead on Eric Black Jr., a 20-year-old black man who admitted he was driving a dark-coloured SUV from which a passenger opened fire, authorities said.

Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez cautioned that authorities were still investigating, but said: “At this point, it does not appear it was related to race.”

Gonzalez said authorities have identified the second suspect, who is also black, but would not say whether the person was in custody.

Chris Sevilla, Jazmine’s father, said in a brief telephone interview that he was feeling “a bit of relief right now” after the arrest.

At a court hearing early Sunday, prosecutors said a confidential source had contacted the sheriff by email and told him the killers had “shot the car by mistake,” thinking the vehicle Jazmine was in was someone else’s that they had seen earlier in the night. Prosecutors did not say why the killers opened fire.

The sheriff said there was a red truck nearby at the time of the shooting, but the driver did not appear to have been involved, and Jazmine’s family apparently mistook the driver for the gunman.

Black, who was arrested Saturday night during a traffic stop, was charged with capital murder and jailed without bail. Court records did not list an attorney for him. Prosecutors said the 9 mm handgun believed used in the shooting had been recovered from Black’s home.

During Sunday’s hearing, prosecutors said Jazmine’s mother, LaPorsha Washington, had tried to drive to a hospital after the shooting, but one of her front tires had been shot out.

After the shooting, a composite sketch of a white man in a dark hood was widely circulated.

Jazmine’s family and activists had said the shooting was similar to an unsolved incident in the area in 2017 in which a gunman described as white shot into a vehicle carrying at least two black people.

The girl’s killing prompted an outpouring of support for her family from celebrities and ordinary people across the country. On Saturday, hundreds gathered at a rally near where the shooting happened, holding balloons, stuffed animals and signs that read, “Justice for Jazmine.” A $100,000 reward was offered for information leading to an arrest.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said the support Jazmine’s family received provided law enforcement “with a sense of urgency and made Jazmine’s loved ones know they weren’t alone in their time of grief.”

“We share their deep sense of loss and anger,” Turner said.

___

Juan A. Lozano, The Associated Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

UPDATE: Four-vehicle collision snarls eastbound highway traffic in Chilliwack

Collision west of Lickman Road on Highway 1 includes three vehicles plus motorcycle

Popular retired UFV therapy dog passes away

Mac the Therapy Dog consoled countless students and staff, as well as wildfire victims

Imagination Library Fraser Valley celebrating Christmas in July

Dolly Parton early literacy intiative looking for financial support to help with waitlist

Online submissions now open for virtual Chilliwack Fair

No fee this year to submit entries for food, arts and more in 148th annual Chilliwack Fair

Handgun pointing complaint draws strong RCMP presence at Chilliwack residence Wednesday night

One in custody after brief standoff involving Emergency Response Team and canine unit

B.C. sees 25 new COVID-19 cases, community exposure tracked

One death, outbreaks remain in two long-term care facilities

Once-in-a-lifetime comet photographed soaring over Abbotsford

Photographer Randy Small captures Comet NEOWISE in early-morning sky

BREAKING: Amber Alert for two Quebec girls cancelled after bodies found

Romy Carpentier, 6, Norah Carpentier, 11, and their father, Martin Carpentier, missing since Wednesday

Bringing support to Indigenous students and communities, while fulfilling a dream

Mitacs is a nonprofit organization that operates research and training programs

B.C. man prepares to be first to receive double-hand transplant in Canada

After the surgery, transplant patients face a long recovery

Grocers appear before MPs to explain decision to cut pandemic pay

Executives from three of Canada’s largest grocery chains have defended their decision to end temporary wage increases

Man shot dead in east Abbotsford suburbs

Integrated Homicide Investigative Team called to investigate

RCMP ‘disappointed’ by talk that race a factor in quiet Rideau Hall arrest

Corey Hurren, who is from Manitoba, is facing 22 charges

NHL’s Canadian hubs offer little economic benefit, but morale boost is valuable: experts

Games are slated to start Aug. 1 with six Canadian teams qualifying for the 24-team resumption of play

Most Read