A 20-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the shooting death of 7-year-old Jazmine Barnes in what police are calling a case of mistaken identity
Ed. Note: On Jan. 8, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office charged a second suspect, 24-year-old Larry D. Woodruffe, with capital murder.
Authorities identified Woodruffe as a suspect based on evidence in a subsequent investigation. Woodruffe was booked into the Harris County Jail on a felony drug possession charge, pending further investigation.
Here is PEOPLE’s initial story on the arrest of the first suspect, originally published Jan. 7.
A 20-year-old man has been arrested in the shooting death of 7-year-old Jazmine Barnes, the Texas girl killed in a drive-by shooting in Houston while riding in a car with her family, PEOPLE confirms.
On Sunday morning, Harris County Sheriff’s Office homicide investigators filed a capital murder charge against Eric Black Jr., Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said in a statement on Facebook.
Police say they believe the shooting was a case of mistaken identity and that Black — and possibly one or more other people — shot at Jazmine’s car thinking it belonged to someone else.
“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,” Gonzalez in the statement.
On Dec. 30 at about 6:50 a.m., Jazmine’s mother, LaPorsha Washington, 30, was driving Jazmine and her three sisters, 16, 15 and 6, southbound on a highway feeder road in Houston to get coffee when someone in another vehicle began firing at them, say police.
One of the bullets hit Jazmine, who was sitting in the back seat, killing her instantly.
Washington was shot once in the arm. Jazmine’s 6-year-old sister sustained injuries caused by shards of broken glass. Jazmine’s two older sisters escaped uninjured.
In an interview with local TV station KTRK, Washington sobbed as she recalled how the gunman “intentionally killed my child for no reason. He didn’t even know her. He didn’t even know who she was.”
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The arrest helped quell rising tensions in Houston and across the nation after witnesses, including one of Jazmine’s older sisters, described the shooter as a bearded white man in his forties, driving a red or maroon pickup truck, which led to speculation the shooting was a hate crime.
The man who was arrested is black.
Gonzalez said authorities believe the man initially being sought for Jazmine’s death was actually a witness who drove past Jazmine’s family’s car just before the shooting and was the last person they may have seen before gunfire erupted, Gonzalez said in a press conference.
Police are still searching for the man in the pickup truck to talk to him about what he may have seen, said Gonzalez.
Jazmine and her family, Gonzalez says, are likely “innocent victims.”
Investigators identified Black as a suspect based on a tip, the sheriff says in the statement.
During questioning, Black allegedly admitted to taking part in the shooting, the sheriff says.
It was not immediately clear if Black has retained an attorney or entered a plea.
“Our work is not finished, but I believe the people of Harris County can take comfort in knowing we have made great progress,” Gonzalez says in the statement.
A GoFundMe campaign has been set up to help Jazmine’s relatives.
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.