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UPDATE: Investigators Charge Man, Identify Second Suspect In Murder Of Jazmine Barnes

Eric Black, the man who’s been charged so far, admits taking part in the shooting. Sheriff Ed Gonzalez says investigators believe the killer wasn’t targeting the child and her family.

Harris County Sheriff’s Office homicide investigators have filed a capital murder charge against Eric Black Jr., 20, for the Dec. 30 shooting death of 7-year-old Jazmine Barnes.

Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said Sunday the investigation of the murder of 7-year-old Jazmine Barnes is ongoing and that, although investigators have already charged a man for the crime, there is another person involved in the fatal shooting.

LaPorsha Washington, Barnes’ mother, was driving Jazmine and her three sisters southbound on the East Sam Houston Parkway feeder road near Wallisville Road at approximately 6:50 a.m. on December 30 when they were fired upon by someone in another vehicle.

During a press conference held at the Sheriff’s Office headquarters in downtown Houston, Gonzalez pointed out that the shooting “was likely a case of mistaken identity where the intended targets were likely someone else.” The Sheriff said that, at this point in the investigation, the fatal shooting “does not appear it was related to race.”

On Saturday, Harris County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) homicide investigators filed a capital murder charge against Eric Black Jr. for the fatal shooting of Barnes.

According to a news release sent around 12:45 a.m., investigators identified Black as a suspect based on a tip. Subsequent investigation revealed evidence that corroborated the tip. Black, who is 20-years-old, was taken into custody in East Harris County without incident.

Gonzalez detailed that Black became a target of the investigation through a tip received by journalist and activist Shaun King, who has been involved in the case since the beginning and has offered a substantial reward for information leading to an arrest. 

“Mr. Black has acknowledged his role in Jasmine’s murder,” the Sheriff noted, “and we’ve also received information that this involves a second individual as well.”

Gonzalez said authorities have identified the second suspect, who is also African-American, but wouldn’t say whether the person is in custody, the Associated Press reported.

However, S. Lee Merritt, the lawyer for the Barnes’ family named the second suspect as 24-year-old Larry Woodruffe on Instagram. Merritt’s post said Woodruffe is believed to be the shooter. A spokesman for the Sheriff’s Office told News 88.7 Monday morning that Woodruffe hasn’t been charged in Barnes’ murder so far.

Red Truck Likely A Witness

Now investigators believe the red truck that was driven by the supposed shooter isn’t involved in the crime. “We believe now that that red truck and the driver is most likely just a witness, either by sight or sound to what actually transpired,” said Gonzalez.

The Sheriff added investigators still want the driver of the red truck to come forward because he might “shed some light.”

“This just went down very quickly when the fire erupted,” Gonzalez noted as he addressed the initial mistake of pointing at the red truck as the shooting vehicle. “You’re talking about small children.”

“They witnessed something very traumatic and it’s very likely that the last thing they did see was indeed that red truck and that driver that was in that truck and that’s what they remember last,” added the Sheriff, who also emphasized Barnes’ death has caused important discussions about race, hate crimes and gun violence.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner underlined in a statement that “the authorities worked around the clock to find the individual who is allegedly responsible for the heinous and unspeakable act of violence against an innocent child.” He also acknowledged “the outpouring of support from across the country for the victim’s family and our community.”

Anyone with information that may prove helpful to the ongoing investigation is urged to contact Crime Stoppers of Houston at 713-222-TIPS or 713-221-6000.

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Alvaro ‘Al’ Ortiz

General Assignment Reporter

Alvaro 'Al' Ortiz is originally from Spain. He worked for several years in his home country and gained experience in all platforms of journalism, from wire services to print, as well as broadcast news and digital reporting. In 2001, Al came to the United States to pursue a Master's degree...

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