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

Editorial: Federal byelection, if it happens, is no reason for voter fatigue

If indeed a byelection is called to choose a Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP, we might as well embrace it

Lantzville soccer player a first-round major-league draft pick

Callum Montgomery goes fourth overall to FC Dallas in MLS SuperDraft

Manly will give it another go with federal Green Party

Paul Manly to be acclaimed as party’s Nanaimo-Ladysmith candidate

Nanaimo council concerned about Terminal Avenue supportive housing project

Residents point to a lack of safety and security in the neighbourhood

Transport truck driver identified as one victim in double fatal head-on crash

Clifford Bishop, 54, a resident of Cassidy, had been a truck driver since he was 18

UK lawmakers reject Brexit deal in 432-202 vote

House of Commons votes against the deal struck between Britain’s government and the EU

Awards finalists announced after ‘good year for business’

Vancouver Island Business Excellence Awards organizers reveal 85 finalists

Razor burn: Gillette ad stirs online uproar

A Gillette ad for men invoking the #MeToo movement is sparking intense online backlash

Feds poised to bolster RCMP accountability with external watchdog

Long-anticipated move is the latest attempt at rebuilding the force following years of sagging morale

Canada needs a digital ID system, bankers association says

The Department of Finance last week officially launched its public consultation on the merits of open banking

Second fatal crash occurs in Alberni Valley

Traffic on Highway 4 is being re-routed as investigators are en route

Indigenous energy summit includes session on pipeline ownership options

Steven Saddleback of the Indian Resource Council says a session will feature presentations on financing models

Japanese grand champion Kisenosato retires from sumo

The 32-year-old Kisenosato was the first Japanese-born wrestler in 19 years to gain promotion to sumo’s highest rank

UPDATE: Accused B.C. high school killer found fit to stand trial

Gabriel Klein is accused in the 2016 stabbing death of Letisha Reimer at Abbotsford Senior Secondary

Most Read