Authorities in Texas have charged a 20-year-old man in the shooting death of a 7-year-old black girl who was killed while riding in a vehicle with her family. Another man is being held in connection with the shooting but has not yet been charged.
The Harris County Sheriff’s Office announced early Sunday morning that Eric Black Jr. was charged with capital murder in the death of Jazmine Barnes. Black appeared in court early Sunday morning, wearing handcuffs and an orange jumpsuit. He was ordered held without bail.
Lee Merritt, an attorney for the Barnes family, said another suspect has also been arrested.
Jazmine was fatally shot in Houston on December 30 after authorities said a suspect pulled alongside the vehicle the girl was riding in and opened fire. Jazmine died at the scene, while her mother was shot in the arm. The shooting occurred as the family was heading to the store.
A prosecutor presented details of the case at a probable cause hearing Sunday morning. The prosecutor said the Harris County sheriff had received an anonymous tip over email implicating two men identified as “LW” and “EB” in the shooting.
The source told the sheriff the suspects thought the vehicle carrying Jazmine was another vehicle they had seen earlier in the day, the prosecutor said, and didn’t realize they had hit the wrong vehicle until seeing the news later that day.
The source provided the sheriff with an Instagram account used by one of the suspects, which investigators determined belonged to Black, the prosecutor said. On Saturday, police stopped Black in a grey Kia for failing to signal when changing lanes, and held him for suspected marijuana possession after a deputy said he saw a plastic bag in his glove box and searched his car.
Homicide detectives interviewed Black on Saturday, and the prosecutor said Black admitted to driving the vehicle involved in the shooting. Black told investigators “LW” was seated in the front passenger seat of a rental car and fired at the car carrying Jazmine. Black returned that rental car after the shooting and picked up the car he was driving when he was pulled over Saturday.
The prosecutor said in Sunday’s hearing that Black then agreed to a search of his residence, where police found a 9 mm pistol consistent with the gun used in the shooting.
Jazmine’s mother, LaPorsha Washington, has said she believes the shooting was racially motivated. The alleged shooter was earlier described as a white man in a red truck, but Black is African American.
Investigators plan to hold a news conference Sunday afternoon to provide more details on the charges.
Hundreds of people gathered at a rally Saturday afternoon for the girl near where the shooting happened. People held up balloons and stuffed animals, as well as signs that said “Justice for Jazmine.”
A $100,000 reward was being offered for information leading to an arrest in Jazmine’s case.