Jazmine Barnes murder: Man charged over fatal shooting of seven-year-old girl

'Investigators do not believe Jazmine's family was the intended target of the shooting,' police say

Zamira Rahim
Sunday 06 January 2019 11:02
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Jazmine Barnes was killed on 30 December
Jazmine Barnes was killed on 30 December

A seven-year-old girl who was shot dead as she travelled in her family car could have been killed as "a result of mistaken identity", police said as they charged a man with his murder.

Jazmine Barnes was died on 30 December in front of a supermarket car park in the Texan city of Houston, after a suspect pulled alongside the vehicle the girl was riding in and opened fire.

She died died in in front of her sisters and mother LaPorsha Washington, who was hit in the arm by a bullet.

As police launched a massive manhunt for the killer, they described the shooter was described as a white man in a red truck.

Ms Washington said at the time that she believed the shooting was racially motivated.

Christopher Cevilla, father of Jazmine Barnes, speaks during a press conference

After receiving a tip off, police arrested Eric Black Jr and later charged him with Jazmine's murder, a spokesperson from the Harris County Sheriff's Office said. They did not identify the suspect's race.

"Investigators do not believe Jazmine's family was the intended target of the shooting," they said. Detectives "are continuing to pursue evidence that could possibly lead to other suspects being charged in this case," the statement added.

At a press conference on Sunday, Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez underscored that point. He said while the authorities were still investigating, he added: “At this point, it does not appear it was related to race.”

Mr Black was charged just hours after Ms Washington vowed to find her child's killer, in a speech made to hundreds of supporters who gathered at a rally to pay tribute to the seven-year-old.

Addressing the crowd who held up balloons and stuffed animals, as well as signs that said "Justice for Jazmine", she said: "We going to find him no matter what corner we have to turn," she said. "No matter what rock we have gotta go under, we are going to find you."

Jazmine's aunt Sheronica Watt, also spoke.

"We're asking you to turn yourself in right now, in the name of Jesus," she tearfully told the crowd. "We're asking you to give justice to me and my family."

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Jazmine's family have set up a fundraising website to pay for her funeral expenses.

"Rest In Heaven Jazmine our beautiful princess," her father, Christopher Cevilla, wrote. "We love you and miss you!"

A $100,000 (£79,000) reward was being offered for information leading to an arrest in the case.

Additional reporting by agencies

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