Eric Black Jr. has been charged with capital murder in connection with the murder of seven-year-old Jazmine Barnes, according to a statement from the Harris County Sheriff’s Office in East Harris County, TX.
Initial reports believed the shooter to be a white man in his 40s based on accounts from Jazmine’s family, which were shared in a news conference last week. The person charged for the crime is a 20-year-old Black man, a sheriff’s office spokesperson said on Sunday. Police believe her death was a possible case of mistaken identity rather than a targeted attack.
Eric Black Jr. has allegedly confessed to acting as the getaway driver, reports the Houston Chronicle. He was arrested on Saturday after he was identified as a suspect while pulled over for not using his turn signal. According to the Houston Chronicle, when questioned by the police, Black admitted that Jazmine’s death was a mistake and that she and her family were not the intended targets. In a statement given earlier this morning, investigators are continuing to “pursue evidence that could possibly lead to other suspects being charged,” reports the BBC. The prosecutors have reportedly identified the man believed to be the shooter during Black’s court appearance. As of Sunday, he has not yet been arrested or charged.
Because Jazmine was under 10 years old, prosecutors are seeking a charge of capital murder. Under a Texas law known as the Law of Parties, accomplices are held equally responsible, which means Black is as culpable as the actual gunman. Given that it is a capital offence, prosecutors could seek the death penalty.
Jazmine was fatally shot on December 30, 2018, when a man in a red pickup truck pulled up alongside their car and started shooting. She was riding in a car with her mother and three sisters on their way to get coffee. Jazmine died at the scene.
A GoFundMe page, set up by Jazmine’s father, has been created to offset the costs of the funeral. On Saturday, there was a 1,000-person rally in Houston calling for justice for Jazmine and her family. Activist Shaun King offered a reward of $25,000 for any information about the killer. Former NBA player Shaquille O’Neal and a Houston police officer have offered to pay for Barnes’ funeral, reports NBC News. NFL player DeAndre Hopkins pledged his playoff paycheck to her family.
Jazmine’s mother, who was shot in the arm in the shooting, implored the public to send in any tips anything they may have seen that could help lead to answers. According to The New York Times, it was an anonymous tip given to the local sheriff’s department that led to the arrest.
In a statement on Sunday, Harris County sheriff Ed Gonzalez said, “Our work is not finished, but I believe the people of Harris County can take comfort in knowing we have made great progress.”