The death of a 7-year-old girl in a drive-by shooting in Houston was most likely a case of “mistaken identity” involving two suspects, one of whom is in police custody, Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said Sunday.
Jazmine Barnes was riding in a car with her mother and sisters on December 30 when someone in another vehicle shot her in the head.
Eric Black Jr., 20, was arrested Saturday in a traffic stop for not using his turn signal. He is accused of driving the car used in Jazmine’s death, Gonzalez said in a news conference Sunday. He faces a charge of capital murder.
The sheriff declined to name the second person or say if the person was in police custody, citing the pending investigation.
Meanwhile, investigators are still looking for the driver of a red pickup truck reported at the scene, Gonzalez said. They do not believe the driver — described as a white man in his 40s — or the truck were involved in the shooting, he said, despite previous reports suggesting racism played a role in Jazmine’s death.
The latest developments mark a turning point in a case that shocked the nation. At Sunday’s press conference, Gonzalez and Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee said they hoped Jazmine’s death would lead to more discussions about gun violence prevention and race relations.
“This death of Jazmine has sparked a lot of discussion on many different levels and I think that it is good that going forward we continue to have positive dialogue on a number of issues,” Gonzalez said.
Jazmine and her three sisters were still in their pajamas when they piled into their mother’s car the morning of December 30.
As they drove to a store for breakfast supplies, a man pulled up next to their car around 7 a.m. and opened fire, Jazmine’s mother, LaPorsha Washington, said.
Investigators identified Black as one of two suspects in Jazmine’s shooting based on an anonymous tip, according to an affidavit read aloud in court Sunday. Gonzalez said that the tipster had approached writer and activist Shaun King days earlier, and King passed the tip on to police.
The anonymous tipster said Black and another person, identified in court as “L.W.,” shot at Jazmine’s family’s vehicle after mistaking it for another one.
Black was pulled over days later for not using his turn signal, according to the affidavit. He was arrested for marijuana possession and questioned by homicide investigators based on the tips, the affidavit said.
Black told investigators that he drove the vehicle used in the shooting while a man in the passenger seat opened fire, according to the affidavit.
Black said the gun used in the shooting was at his home, the affidavit said. He gave officers permission to search for it and they found a 9mm pistol consistent with shell casings recovered from the scene.
SOURCE: Holly Yan and Hollie Silverman, CNN