20-year-old man charged with capital murder in girl’s death

HOUSTON (AP) – Authorities in Texas have charged a 20-year-old man in the shooting death of a seven-year-old black girl who was killed while riding in a vehicle with her family.

The Harris County Sheriff’s Office announced early yesterday that Eric Black Jr was charged with capital murder in the death of Jazmine Barnes. Investigators identified Black as a suspect after receiving a tip, the office said in a statement.

“Investigators do not believe Jazmine’s family was the intended target of the shooting,” the statement said. “They were possibly shot as a result of mistaken identity.”

Jazmine was fatally shot in Houston on December 30 last year 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.

LaPorsha Washington, the mother of seven-year-old Jazmine Barnes, speaks during a rally in Houston. – AP

Following his arrest in east Harris County, the sheriff’s office said Black admitted to taking part in the shooting. Officials also said investigators are looking into the possibility that others could be charged in the case.

Late on Saturday, the sheriff’s office said on Twitter that the investigation had “taken a new direction”.

The post did not elaborate, and the sheriff’s office did not immediately respond to phone messages.

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 the sheriff’s office did not immediately identify Black’s race.

Hundreds of people gathered at a rally last 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 USD100,000 reward was offered for information leading to an arrest in Jazmine’s case.