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Houston Matters

Sheriff Gonzalez Defends Using Composite Sketch In Search For Jazmine Barnes’ Killer

The investigation is ongoing and there is a second suspect, but Gonzalez declines to comment on his identity or whether he is in custody.

Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez told Houston Matters Monday the investigation of the murder of Jazmine Barnes is ongoing and there is a second suspect in the case, in addition to Eric Black Jr., who has already been charged with capital murder. He also defended using a composite sketch that doesn’t have a resemblance with the man who has been charged so far because it’s the description that the relatives of the 7-year-old, who are eyewitnesses to the crime, provided.

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.

“This investigation will be guided by evidence and also by our follow-up work and, so, when we’re finally complete with everything, then we’ll see where that leads us,” Gonzalez told Houston Matters host Craig Cohen.

The Sheriff said investigators “have information that there’s a second suspect,” and added “we still need to verify some information, so no one else has been charged at this time.” Gonzalez said the second suspect is African-American, same as Black Jr., the AP reported.

The Sheriff declined to comment on the name of the suspect or whether he is in custody, but underscored his department will remain “focused and diligent.”

Watch Sheriff Ed Gonzalez talk about the ongoing investigation and the challenges it entails here:


Same as he said Sunday during a press conference, Gonzalez noted investigators think the fatal shooting of the 7-year-old girl was likely a case of mistaken identity.

The Sheriff also addressed the fact that the composite sketch of the shooter that was released last Thursday and was drawn based on the description provided by Barnes’ relatives has no resemblance to the man who has been charged so far. The sketch depicted the shooter as a white male.

“Sometimes, the information that comes forward initially, I mean, that’s, that’s what you have to go by unless you have other descriptors or information,” he said.

Even though Gonzalez thinks at this point that the shooting wasn’t racially motivated, he acknowledged Barnes’ death has elicited a discussion about racial tension in the United States and said he isn’t “tone deaf” to such concern.

Suspect’s first court hearing

Eric Black Jr. had his first court hearing Monday morning. A prosecutor said Black Jr. and the other suspect mistook the car Barnes was in for one belonging to individuals they had fought with at a club hours earlier.

Authorities believe Black, who is charged with capital murder, was driving the SUV from which the shots were fired.

Black didn’t say anything during the brief hearing. His attorney, Alvin Nunnery, asked the judge to bar investigators from interviewing Black.

After the hearing, prosecutor Samantha Knecht declined to comment on the other suspect in the case, who is believed to be the shooter.