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Investigation Into Drive-By Shooting Of 7-Year-Old Jazmine Barnes Has Taken A New Direction

Hanna Bogorowski | Reporter

  • Police have reportedly arrested two men in the murder of 7-year-old Jazmine Barnes, who was killed in a drive-by shooting in Houston, Texas, on Dec. 30.
  • The case garnered national attention as it was originally believed to be a racially motivated hate crime after witnesses identified the suspect as a white male driving a red pick-up truck.
  • Police now believe it was a case of mistaken identity, and Jazmine and her family were not targeted.

Investigators are now calling the shooting of 7-year-old Jazmine Barnes a case of mistaken identity after witnesses believed a white man in a red pick-up truck was responsible for her Dec. 30 murder, but officials said Sunday that two different men have been taken into custody and one has been charged with capital murder.

Barnes was killed while sitting in the backseat of her mothers car with her three sisters as they drove out of a Walmart parking lot in northeast Houston on Dec. 30. Her mother, LaPorsha Washington, was also shot when a car pulled up and began spraying bullets.

The case garnered national attention after Washington said she believed the case to be a hate crime after she and her family identified the shooter in the apparently random attack to be a white male.

Shaun King, a racial justice activist and a columnist at The Intercept, offered a $100,000 reward for information on the suspect. DeAndre Hopkins, a wide receiver for the Houston Texans, announced on Jan. 3 that he would be donating his $29,000 playoff game check to help Barness family cover funeral expenses.

URGENT. ALL HANDS ON DECK.

A 40 y/o white man w/ a beard in a red pickup truck pulled up on 7 y/o Jazmine Barnes and her family near a Houston @Walmart and shot and killed her and injured others.

I am joining the search for her killer and have a $25,000 reward.

Need him NOW. pic.twitter.com/ugfA2nJ1k8

— Shaun King (@shaunking) January 1, 2019

Authorities originally reported the suspect to be a white man driving a red pick-up truck based on accounts of the shooting from Barness family, but the Harris County Sheriffs Office tweeted late Saturday that the investigation had “taken a new direction.”

Homicide investigators subsequently filed a capital murder charge against Eric Black Jr., 20, according to a statement from the sheriffs office, who had been identified as a suspect based on a tip. He later admitted to taking part in the shooting.

Eric Black Jr., 20, is charged with capital murder in the death of 7-year-old Jazmine Barnes. #hounews pic.twitter.com/OlmqMlb3ES

— HCSOTexas (@HCSOTexas) January 6, 2019

Washington told the Houston Chronicle that she believed the shooting was racially motivated, but the sheriffs office said Sunday that the case was more likely one of mistaken identity, and investigators do not believe Barnes or her family were targeted, according to reports.

Barness familys lawyer, S. Lee Merritt, announced in an Instagram post overnight that a second man, Larry Woodruffe, 24, has been identified as another suspect. Woodruffe is “believed to be the shooter” and has “no connection to Jazmine or her family,” Merritt wrote.

Sources told ABC13 that Woodruffe has been arrested.

Merritt wrote in a post that the tip they received on the suspect was “difficult to believe” given the contrasts between Woodruffe and the man in the police sketch. (RELATED: Marine Identified In Fatal Shooting In DC Barracks)

The originally identified suspect in the red pick-up truck is now believed to have been a bystander attempting to escape the shooting, according to Merritt.

Actresses Gabrielle Union and Olivia Wilde shared their concern regarding Barnes on social media. Union tweeted, “Find him! This evil monster must be stopped.”

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