Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez stated the arrest of Eric Black Jr. came as a result of a tip journalist Shaun King received.
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On this past Thursday, a brave witness came to me to report that Larry Woodruffe and Eric Black, Jr. actually shot and killed 7 year old Jazmine Barnes and that Jazmine’s mother and family and 4 other eyewitnesses had confused a white man who sped off in his truck as the shooter. I reported this to the Sheriff immediately, because the witness was so compelling, but the sheriff and I both just could not make sense of it. 4 different eyewitnesses thought the shooter was the white man in the truck. It wasn’t. It was these men. We received so many bad tips, and so much misinformation, it just took us 3 days to solve it after the initial report was made. Let me tell you the story of the red truck and how it came to be the focus of this investigation. Two men, in a completely different vehicle, pulled up and shot and killed Jazmine Barnes, shot her mother, and injured her sisters. Jazmine and the girls were still in pajamas. Her mother and the girls never saw the shooter. They heard the shots, saw that Jazmine was shot in the head, that her mother was shot, and then looked up and saw this red truck with a white man driving it peeling off. THREE separate eyewitnesses, each credible, who also heard the shooting, also saw this truck speeding off. I spoke to each of them. They also assumed the white man driving it fired the shots. A brave man even followed the red truck in his own car and got a good look at him. A tow truck driver also saw the truck and got a look at him. In the meantime, the two men that actually shot and killed Jazmine drove off in a completely different direction through the neighborhood. They each later claimed that they thought they were shooting someone from a rival gang. Yes, they did it. No, they weren’t framed. It just took several days to solve it.
A black man was arrested and charged with murder in the killing of a 7-year-old black girl in a drive-by shooting in Houston that her family believed was racially motivated but that prosecutors said Sunday was a case of mistaken identity.
Jazmine Barnes’ family had described the gunman in the Dec. 30 slaying as a white man driving a red pickup, stirring fears among community activists that race played a role in the attack.
But during a court hearing early Sunday, prosecutors said 20-year-old Eric Black Jr., who is black, told investigators he was driving the vehicle from which a passenger opened fire. He said he was in a dark-colored SUV he had rented.
A spokesman for the Harris County Sheriff’s Office didn’t immediately return an email seeking comment.
Chris Sevilla, Jazmine’s father, said in a brief telephone interview that he was feeling “a bit of relief right now” after the arrest.
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.
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.
It was not immediately known whether the suspected gunman has been arrested.
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.
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.
Jazmine’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.