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

B.C. sockeye returns drop as official calls 2019 ‘extremely challenging’

Federal government says officials are seeing the same thing off Alaska and Washington state

RCMP Charity Golf Tournament raises over $13,000

RCMP members joined WLGTC players and local businesses for a fun-filled day on the links

Oregon couple’s stolen truck located at Deep Creek, boat still missing

Jim and Kathy Jantz are thankful for the help they have received so far in Williams Lake

Portion of every A&W teen burger sale for MS Society of Canada Aug. 22

There will also be an instore bake sale at the Williams Lake store

Trudeau vows to stand firm against ‘increasingly assertive’ China

China has accused Canada of meddling in its affairs

New police force in Surrey must avoid VPD, RCMP errors made in Pickton case: Oppal

Boots are scheduled to be on the ground by spring 2021

B.C. music teacher accused of sexual misconduct involving girls

Police believe other victims could be out there after the arrest of Lamar Victor Alviar

B.C. family stranded in Croatia desperate to come home

Funds being raised to bring back mom and two children

B.C. man tells judge he attempted suicide a month before daughters’ murders

Andrew Berry takes stand in his defense for December 2017 deaths of young daughters

‘Plenty of time for a deal’: Teachers’ union expects kids back in school on Sept. 3

BCTF says class size, composition at the heart of the issue

Province funds new shuttle buses for 13 B.C. senior centres

Activity, socializing helps maintain health, Adrian Dix says

Thermal imaging cameras eye Salish Sea in hopes of better detecting whales

Cameras installed at BC Ferries’ terminal on Galiano Island, and off southern Gulf Islands

BREAKING: Province approves Surrey police force

Minister of Public Safety Mike Farnworth green-lights city’s municipal police force

Most Read