Houston, Texas: The Harris County Sheriff’s Office said early Sunday morning that a 20-year-old man had been charged with capital murder for the killing of Jazmine Barnes, the 7-year-old who was fatally shot inside a moving car near Houston last month when she and her family went out to get coffee.
Contrary to previous reports from the authorities that the gunman was a white man, the man who was arrested and charged — Eric Black Jr. — is black, a spokesman for the sheriff’s office said Sunday. The sheriff’s office also said that there could be other suspects. Investigators do not believe that Jazmine or her family were targeted, and that they were “possibly shot as a result of mistaken identity,” the sheriff’s office said.
Homicide detectives interviewed Black on Saturday, and the prosecutor said Black admitted to driving the vehicle involved in the shooting. Black told investigators “LW” was seated in the front passenger seat of a rental car and fired at the car carrying Jazmine. Black returned that rental car after the shooting and picked up the car he was driving when he was pulled over Saturday.
The prosecutor said in Sunday’s hearing that Black then agreed to a search of his residence, where police found a 9 mm pistol consistent with the gun used in the shooting.
Jazmine was in the car with her mother and three sisters on Dec. 30 when a man in a red pickup truck pulled up beside them and began shooting. A bullet struck Jazmine in the head and she died at the scene, the police said.
Jason Spencer, the sheriff’s office spokesman, said Sunday that he did not know if Mr. Black had been booked into jail yet. It was not immediately clear if Mr. Black had an attorney.
The initial description of the gunman as a white man was based on accounts of the shooting from the family, the sheriff’s office said in a news conference last week. The case had drawn national attention across the country.
After Jazmine’s killing, the public mobilized to help the family. About 1,000 people attended a rally on Saturday.
LaPorsha Washington, Jazmine’s mother, had said that she believed the attack was racially motivated.
“I have no tint on my windows or anything so you can see there is a mother — a black mother — with daughters, beautiful children,” Ms. Washington said. “You took my baby from me and you have no care in the world.”
Shaun King, a prominent racial justice activist and a columnist at Intercept, had offered a $100,000 reward for information leading to the gunman’s arrest. DeAndre Hopkins, a wide receiver for the Houston Texans, pledged to donate his paycheck from this weekend’s playoff game, which amounts to $29,000, to help pay for Jazmine’s funeral.
The sheriff’s office said a tip led to Mr. Black’s arrest, and that he had admitted to participating in the shooting.
Mr. Spencer said Mr. Black was from the Houston area.
“Our work is not finished, but I believe the people of Harris County can take comfort in knowing we have made great progress,” Sheriff Ed Gonzalez of Harris County, Tex., said in a statement Sunday.
Lee Merritt, a Philadelphia-based lawyer representing Jazmine’s family, did not immediately respond to a request seeking comment Sunday morning.
Investigators plan to hold a news conference Sunday afternoon to provide more details on the charges. Authorities had offered a $100,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.
At a rally on Saturday, more than 500 people mourned Jazmine and helped raise money for the family.