The sheriff who oversaw the manhunt for the person who killed 7-year-old Jazmine Barnes in a Houston drive-by shooting defended the witnesses who wrongly described the murderer as a white man driving a red truck.
Eric Black Jr., one of the two African-American suspects, was expected to appear before a Texas district court judge on Monday, the Houston Chronicle reported.
Investigators arrested Black, 20, on Saturday and charged him with capital murder. He allegedly confessed to being the getaway driver.
The second suspect, identified as Larry Woodruffe, was accused of pulling the trigger during the drive-by. He was not immediately charged but was reportedly in police custody.
According to initial 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. on Dec. 30.
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.
Sheriff Ed Gonzalez had described Jazmine’s killer as a white male in his 40s with a beard, based on witness accounts. Authorities now say that that the white man in the red truck was likely a witness at the scene who sped away when the shooting started. Additionally, Black and Woodruffe were driving a car–not a truck.
Many are asking how the witnesses got it wrong.
The witnesses included at least one of Jazmine’s sisters who was in the car, as well as Washington who said the shooter had blues eyes, according to KTRK-TV.
“We do not believe in any way that the family, as we’ve said from the beginning, that they’ve been involved in anything nefarious,” Gonzalez said. “It just went down very quickly. The gunfire erupted. We’re talking about small children. They witnessed something very traumatic. It’s likely the last thing they did see was indeed that truck and the driver in that truck.”
The sheriff said that investigators received more than 1,000 tips but credited activist Shaun King for sending him information that led to the capture of the two men. King had offered a reward for information that would help the police find the killers.
Early in the investigation, King shared the description on Twitter that the suspected killer was a white man. He later acknowledged that description was incorrect.
“4 credible independent eyewitnesses heard the shooting and say a white man in a red truck sped off,” King tweeted on Sunday. “It appears that man was an innocent bystander who fled, actually fearing for his life as well. He was not the shooter.”