The Harris County Texas Sheriff’s Office filed capital murder charges against Eric Black Jr in the killing of 7-year-old Jazmine Barnes. Investigators say he’s confessed.
Black, 20, was identified as a suspect based on a tip, police said.
“Subsequent investigation revealed evidence that corroborated the tip, and Black was taken into custody in East Harris County without incident. Black then admitted to taking part in the shooting,” a statement from the sheriff’s department read. “Investigators are continuing to pursue evidence that could possibly lead to other suspects being charged in this case.”
Police did not provide a mug shot of the man they charged, but it was reported by Fox 26 and the Houston Chronicle that the suspect Eric Black Jr. is African-American. The killer was initially described as being a middle-aged white man by the family. The station also reported it has sources say the killing may have been related to gang activity.
The shooting was a case of mistaken identity, the HCSO says.
All evidence gathered so far in the Jazmine Barnes Homicide case supports investigators’ strong belief that she and her family were innocent victims.”
An hour after police released Eric Black’s name as being charged, a local media report named a second suspect, the report claims is the actual shooter. That person has been identified as 24-year-old Larry Woodruffe. Police have not confirmed this report but Woodruffe was taken into custody in the very early morning hours Sunday, albeit on drug charges, court records show.
The sheriff will hold a briefing Sunday at 2 p.m. which will be live-streamed on its Twitter accounts, @HCSOTexas and @SheriffEd_HCSO.
On Sunday, Dec. 30, 2018, at around 7:30 on Sunday morning, a man then described as a white man in his 40s, driving a red pickup truck pulled up next to a car full of girls and their mother and fired into the car striking mom LaPorsha Washington, 30, in the arm and killing little Jazmine, Washington’s daughter.
Five days later, police released a composite sketch of the suspect which was apparently not accurate.
Police sat with Barnes’ sisters, who witnessed their sibling get shot in the head, to get a better picture of what the girls believe the killer may look: A white male, thin build, between 30 and 40 years old. .
“This is the man witnesses say murdered 7-year-old Jazmine Barnes on 12/30 as her family drove on the E. Sam Houston Pkwy frontage road at Wallisville Road. Thin white man, 30’s-40’s, in a red pickup.
But now, in a twist, a very young black man has been charged with capital murder. Texas is a death penalty state and capital murder convictions can mean death.
Police have not released any additional details on Eric Black Jr.
For now, here’s what we know and what you need to know:
1. Police Say the Suspect Opened Fire on the Car Filled With Young Girls & Their Mother But do Not Think the Family Was the Target
Police said early Sunday that “at this time, investigators do not believe Jazmine’s family was the intended target of the shooting, and that they were possibly shot as a result of mistaken identity,” the HCSO said in a release just before 2 a.m. a week after the killing.
Maj. Jesse Razo and homicide detective Lt. Chris Sandoval, both of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office said in a briefing te day of the killing that at around 7 a.m. police received a call about a shooting. Razo said that the shooting occurred as Washington was pulling out of a Wal-Mart parking lot in Cloverleaf, Texas onto a highway road when a red pickup truck pulled up next to her vehicle and began firing into the car and then sped off. Razo said that after the suspect fired into the vehicle, the woman kept going, made a U-turn and eventually stopped the car, which is where deputies found it. And the girls and mother inside.
The car was stopped on the side of the main lanes of a beltway. Inside were four girls and Washington, who was shot in the arm. Little Jazmine Barnes was also shot and dying. The youngest, a 6-year-old, was injured possibly by shattered glass and two teens were physically unharmed. In a reportreported by the Houston Chronicle, it’s said the child died before paramedics could get her to a hospital. Her mother was transported to Ben Taub Hospital in Houston.
Razo said the other girls were “shaken.”
The case remains open and anyone with information that may prove helpful to this ongoing investigation is urged to contact Crime Stoppers of Houston at 713-222-TIPS or 713-221-6000.
2. Jazmine’s Sisters Witnessed the Shooting Death of the 7-Year-Old & Are ‘Devastated’ & a GoFundMe Was Created to Help the Family. Her Funeral is Jan. 8
“They’re devastated. They lost a sister. Especially during this holiday season. It’s tough,” Razo said. “The family of 7-year old Jazmine Barnes says she, her sisters and mom were supposed to make a quick trip to the store today. Family was in town- they were enjoying the holidays together. Little Jazmine never made it home.”
Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said, “Please keep this family in your prayers. A total of 5 occupants in the car witnessed this innocent child, their loved one, shot and killed before their eyes. So senseless. It’s never easy, and extra hard during the holiday season.”
She is survived by her mother, sisters and father, Chris Cevilla.
Cevilla created a GoFundMe to help the family pay for Jazmine’s funeral.
The GoFundMe page has rasied nearly $60,000.
“Today my little girl Jazmine Barnes was shot and killed. Her mother and siblings were also shot at. Unfortunately, the life of my 7 yr old little girl was taken selfishly by an unknown suspect. I hope and pray for my family to find peace and justice for our loss. I could never imagine the day of losing one of my own children let alone the youngest in such a selfish and senseless way,” he wrote.
“Jazmine would soon be celebrating another birthday, instead her funeral is being planned.”
On Saturday Jan. 5 at 12 noon in the Wal-Mart parking lot at 5655 East Sam Houston Parkway in Houston, a ‘Justice for Jazmine Barnes’ community rally was with hundreds in attendance.
At the rally, Washington spoke.
On Tuesday Jan. 8, a viewing, funeral ceremony and purple balloon release will be held beginning at 10 a.m. at the Green House International Church in Houston.
3. A Manhunt Began & the Sheriff Spoke Directly to the Suspect: ‘We Will Find You’ & a $100,000 Reward Was Offered
Razo told reporters early Sunday that HCSO homicide detectives interviewed Washington at the hospital. He said investigators will be looking at surveillance video “from this entire area.”
Razo said “people who commit these types of crimes often talk” and he believes someone has information and asked for anyone with information contact the sheriff’s office.
Razo said the suspect should turn himself in because, “we are looking for you, we will locate you, we will find you.”
Razo said the suspect is “considered armed and dangerous” and should not be approached and HCSO dispatch should be called at 713-221-6000 if anyone sees the man described. And he said people with information should call 911 or 713-222-TIPS (8477).
“Investigators ask all residents in the Wallisville Rd/E. Sam Houston Pwky area to review security video from the morning of 12/30. Looking for a red 4-door pickup involved in the fatal shooting of Jazmine Barnes, age 7. Call 713-274-9100 or @CrimeStopHOU at 713-222-TIPS”
A cash reward was offered, beginning at $25,00 and increased over the past few days to $100,000 for the person who provided information that led to his capture.
Journalist and activist Shaun King tweeted, “I am joining the search for her killer…”
At 1:50 a.m. Sunday Jan. 6, Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said, “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. Our work is not finished, but I believe the people of Harris County can take comfort in knowing we have made great progress.”
Now that there’s been an arrest, some are suggesting that the big cash payout helped bring the killer to justice.
And many were concerned about the inaccurate description.
“Just terrible!!! All these famous people reaching out to help this family and to help this little girl rest in peace, and then this! Possible.gang retaliation!!!!”
But the Harris County sheriff says the family are “innocent victims.”
“All evidence gathered so far in the Jazmine Barnes Homicide case supports investigators’ strong belief that she and her family were innocent victims.”
4. Jazmine Was a Second Grader at Monahan Elementary School & Counselors Are Helping Kids Process The Death & Their Grief
Sheldon ISD joins the Sheldon community in mourning the loss of 7-year-old Jazmine Barnes who was tragically shot and killed yesterday morning while riding in a vehicle, according to the Harris County Sheriff’s Office.
Jazmine was a second grader at Monahan Elementary and will truly be missed by all students and staff.
Although additional counselors will be assigned to Monahan Elementary on Jan. 8, we ask that parents please break the news to their children now and comfort them while they are still on break.
Funeral arrangements are not known at this time, but please visit sheldonisd.com or our Facebook page for updated information.
In addition, please pray for Jazmine’s family as law enforcement continues to conduct their investigation.
“Our hearts go out to Jazmine’s grieving classmates and teachers at Monahan Elementary in @SheldonISD. We won’t rest until this precious child’s killer is brought to justice.”
5. Reaction to the Senseless Slaying Has Come From All Quarters. Celebrities, Professional Athletes, Activists, & Public Officials Have Spoken Out
Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre “Nuk” Hopkins has pledged his pay for this week’s NFL playoff game to the family of slain second-grader Jazmine Barnes for funeral costs and to be used towards the already $100,000 reward leading to the capture of the 7-year-old’s killer.
“When I see Jazmine Barnes’ face, I see my own daughter,” Hopkins wrote on Twitter in announcing not only the hefty donation but that he is dedicating the game to Barnes.
“On Saturday, I will be playing in your honor, Jazmine.”
“I’m pledging my playoff check this week to help her family with funeral costs and to support” activist and journalist Shaun King, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, and Houston mayor Sylvester Turner “in bringing this man to justice.”
“Weeping this morning for the family of Jazmine Barnes. It’s not fair. It’s just not fair.”
Bernice King is demanding justice for the murdered child and importantly, a sweeping systemic change in the cultural climate.
“Jazmine Barnes. Seven. A little girl, her small body shattered by gunfire. Her murderer will be found. Justice will also include us interrogating, challenging and transforming the climate and culture which created the murderer.”
“Find him! This evil monster must be stopped!”
“It is open season. We can’t close our eyes to what has been unleashed in this nation. This murderer must be found. And Jazmine’s family must be embraced, supported and loved through this horrific ordeal.”
This is a developing story.