Officers arrested at least one suspect and charged him with capital murder for killing 7-year-old Jazmine Barnes on Dec. 30 in a Houston drive-by shooting, according to a statement released early Sunday morning from the Harris County Sheriff’s Office.
But the suspect, identified as 20-year-old Eric Black Jr., looks nothing like the sheriff’s early description.
Sheriff Ed Gonzalez had described Jazmine’s killer as a white male in his 40s with a beard. But Black is African-American, according to FOX 26 and several other news outlets.
A second suspect was reportedly arrested, but the sheriff’s office did not immediately confirm those reports.
Jazmine was in the car with her mother and three sisters when a man in a red pickup truck pulled up beside them and began shooting as they exited a Walmart parking lot at about 7 a.m. A bullet struck Jazmine in the head and she died at the scene, investigators said. Her mother, LaPorsha Washington, 30, and one of Jazmine’s sisters were injured in what appeared to be a random attack.
“I am grateful to our dedicated investigators, the partner law enforcement agencies that provided vital assistance, and tipsters from across the nation who pulled together to support our work to get justice for Jazmine,” Gonzalez said.
The sheriff’s office said a tip led to Black’s arrest, and that he had admitted to participating in the shooting. Black, who is from the Houston area, was taken into custody without incident. Detectives are continuing their investigation, which could possibly result in more arrests.
Officials said the shooting may have been gang-related. Investigators believed that the shooting was a case of mistaken identity and that Washington’s family was not the intended target.
Law enforcement officials released a sketch of the suspect on Thursday, based on accounts of the shooting from the family. He was said to be a white man with blue eyes.
Activist Shaun King, who had offered a reward for information leading to an arrest, said eyewitnesses to the shooting apparently misidentified a white man as the shooter. See his tweet below:
The shooting was believed by many to be racially motived. But Gonzalez said at news conference on Wednesday that his investigators were not focused on whether Jazmine’s killing was a racially motivated hate crime. Instead, they would focus on collecting evidence and developing leads, adding, “We’re not tone deaf to some of the concerns in our community where this could be potentially race related.”
“Our work is not finished, but I believe the people of Harris County can take comfort in knowing we have made great progress,” Gonzalez said the statement after Black was arrested.