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.

Just Posted

Cloverdale’s 5 most-read stories of the week, March 17–22

Lottery ticket lawsuit, mysterious holes in tree trunks, and more

Surrey couple visits the Philippines each year to give back to wife’s former village

Nissa and Bob Clarkson give toys to children, provide medical-dental missions

What’s happening in Cloverdale this weekend, March 22 to 24

Looking for something to do in Cloverdale this weekend?

Upbeat White Rock concert blends ecology, history

The Wilds and Tiller’s Folly raise ‘Voices for the Salish Sea’

Stolen Bentley spotted going wrong way down highway found in Summerland

The car has been recorded going the wrong way on the Coquihalla, found two days later

1,300 cruise ship passengers rescued by helicopter amid storm off Norway’s coast

Rescue teams with helicopters and boats were sent to evacuate the cruise ship under extremely difficult circumstances

B.C. university to offer first graduate program on mindfulness in Canada

University of the Fraser Valley says the mostly-online program focuses on self-care and well being

Province announces $18.6 million for B.C. Search and Rescue

The funding, spread over three years, to pay for operations, equipment, and training

Vancouver-bound transit bus involved in fatal crash near Seattle

One man was killed and a woman injured in crash with bus purchased by TransLink

Late-season wave of the flu makes its round in B.C.

BC Centre for Disease Control reported 50 per cent jump in flu cases in first weeks of March

Tofino’s housing crisis causing some to seek shelter at the local hospital

Tofino’s housing crisis is pushing the town’s ‘hidden homeless’ population into the forefront.

Sentencing judge in Broncos crash calls for carnage on highways to end

Judge Inez Cardinal sentenced Jaskirat Singh Sidhu to eight years

Most Read