Investigation Into Drive-By Shooting Of 7-Year-Old Jazmine Barnes Has ‘Taken A New Direction’

Hanna Bogorowski | Reporter
  • Police have reportedly arrested two men in the murder of 7-year-old Jazmine Barnes, who was killed in a drive-by shooting in Houston, Texas, on Dec. 30.
  • The case garnered national attention as it was originally believed to be a racially motivated hate crime after witnesses identified the suspect as a white male driving a red pickup truck.
  • Police now believe it was a case of mistaken identity, and Jazmine and her family were not targeted.

Investigators are now calling the shooting of 7-year-old Jazmine Barnes a case of mistaken identity after witnesses believed a white man in a red pickup truck was responsible for her Dec. 30 murder, but officials said Sunday that two different men have been taken into custody and one has been charged with capital murder.

Barnes was killed while sitting in the backseat of her mother’s car with her three sisters as they drove out of a Walmart parking lot in northeast Houston on Dec. 30. Her mother, LaPorsha Washington, was also shot when a car pulled up and began spraying bullets.

The case garnered national attention after Washington said she believed the case to be a hate crime after she and her family identified the shooter in the apparently random attack to be a white male.

Shaun King, a racial justice activist and a columnist at The Intercept, offered a $100,000 reward for information on the suspect. DeAndre Hopkins, a wide receiver for the Houston Texans, announced on Jan. 3 that he would be donating his $29,000 playoff game check to help Barnes’s family cover funeral expenses.

Authorities originally reported the suspect to be a white man driving a red pickup truck based on accounts of the shooting from Barnes’s family, but the Harris County Sheriff’s Office tweeted late Saturday that the investigation had “taken a new direction.”

Homicide investigators subsequently filed a capital murder charge against Eric Black Jr., 20, according to a statement from the sheriff’s office, who had been identified as a suspect based on a tip. He later admitted to taking part in the shooting.

Washington told the Houston Chronicle that she believed the shooting was racially motivated, but the sheriff’s office said Sunday that the case was more likely one of mistaken identity, and investigators do not believe Barnes or her family were targeted, according to reports.

Barnes’s family’s lawyer, S. Lee Merritt, announced in an Instagram post overnight that a second man, Larry Woodruffe, 24, has been identified as another suspect. Woodruffe is “believed to be the shooter” and has “no connection to Jazmine or her family,” Merritt wrote.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

‪I’ll go ahead and state the obvious. 24 y/o Larry Woodruffe doesn’t fit the description offered by the 4 different witness statements or composite sketch. Accordingly, this tip was difficult to believe. Assuming the confession elicited is reliable— it is possible the previously identified suspect seen fleeing by several independent witnesses was a bystanader attempting to escape the shooting. To observers, however, he appeared to be the shooter himself. ‬More information will have to be drawn out before there is a conviction. Nonetheless, the community is collectively responsible for obtaining evidence that has led to a credible arrest and we are closer to answers. That much is laudable.

A post shared by S. Lee Merritt, Esquire (@leemerrittesq) on

Sources told ABC13 that Woodruffe has been arrested.

Merritt wrote in a post that the tip they received on the suspect was “difficult to believe” given the contrasts between Woodruffe and the man in the police sketch. (RELATED: Marine Identified In Fatal Shooting In DC Barracks)

The originally identified suspect in the red pickup truck is now believed to have been a bystander attempting to escape the shooting, according to Merritt.

Actresses Gabrielle Union and Olivia Wilde shared their concern regarding Barnes on social media. Union tweeted, “Find him! This evil monster must be stopped.”

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