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United States

Hundreds rally as seven-year-old girl’s killer remains at large

  • Texas authorities have charged a 20-year-old man in the shooting death of a girl who was killed while riding in a vehicle with her family
  • The victim’s family believes the shooting was racially motivated
PUBLISHED : Sunday, 06 January, 2019, 5:13pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 06 January, 2019, 10:34pm

Authorities in Texas have charged a 20-year-old man in the shooting death of a seven-year-old girl who was killed while riding in a vehicle with her family.

The Harris County Sheriff’s Office announced early Sunday that Eric Black Jnr was charged with capital murder in the death of Jazmine Barnes. Investigators identified Black as a suspect after receiving a tip, the office said in a statement.

“Investigators do not believe Jazmine’s family was the intended target of the shooting,” the statement said. “They were possibly shot as a result of mistaken identity.”

Jazmine’s mother, LaPorsha Washington, has said she believed the shooting was racially motivated. The girl was black and the alleged shooter is described as a white man in a red truck, but the sheriff’s office did not immediately identify Black’s race.

At the end of the day, Jazmine is ours. She’s my kid. She’s your kid
Trae tha Truth

Jazmine was fatally shot in Houston on December 30 after authorities said a suspect pulled alongside the vehicle the girl was riding in and opened fire. Jazmine died at the scene, while her mother was shot in the arm. The shooting occurred as the family was heading to the store.

Following his arrest in east Harris County, the sheriff’s office said Black admitted to taking part in the shooting. Officials also said investigators are looking into the possibility that others could be charged in the case.

Late Saturday, the sheriff’s office said on Twitter that the investigation had “taken a new direction”. The post did not elaborate, and the sheriff’s office did not immediately respond to phone messages.

Police have said they are pursuing various leads after a composite sketch of the suspect was released on Thursday. Investigators added that they have not yet determined a motive, including whether race might have played a role.

Hundreds of people gathered at a rally Saturday afternoon for the girl near where the shooting happened. People held up balloons and stuffed animals, as well as signs that said “Justice for Jazmine”.

Those in attendance were asked to think of the victim as their own child and to be part of an “army” that will help authorities catch the person who fatally shot her.

The rally was held in the car park of a Walmart near where the shooting happened.

Various local and federal officials, including Houston Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, attended the rally. Houston-based rappers Paul Wall and Trae tha Truth asked the crowd to reach out to authorities if they have any information on the shooter.

“At the end of the day, Jazmine is ours. She’s my kid. She’s your kid,” Trae tha Truth said. “There’s no excuse … At the end of the day it’s simple. We all have to stand up.”

Lee said she planned to reach out to federal authorities to ask them to create a national manhunt for Jazmine’s killer.

A $100,000 reward is being offered for information leading to an arrest.

Others at the rally discussed their belief that the shooting was racially motivated and was reflective of what they see as growing intolerance and attacks on minorities and immigrants in the United States.

Community activists said the attack is similar to a 2017 incident in the area in which a suspect described as white shot into a vehicle carrying at least two black people. That shooting remains unsolved.

“This is a disgrace to our nation and we want the hate to stop. We want love to rise up,” said Bishop E.L. Usher, the pastor at the church attended by Jazmine’s father.