Two suspects arrested in murder of Jazmine Barnes, but neither matches witness descriptions
According to the Houston Chronicle, a week-long manhunt for the killer of 7-year-old Jazmine Barnes has drawn to a conspicuous close as one of the men police say was involved confessed while in police custody. 20-year-old Eric Black Jr. Black described the killing to police officers as a “mistake” and told them that Barnes was never the intended target of their attack. Police say Black, who is Black, was initially arrested for not using a turn signal, and then the officers discovered he had marijuana on him before finally coming to the realization that he was one of the suspects in an ongoing murder investigation.
One of Barnes’ sisters, who was in the car at the time of the shooting, described the assailant as a white man. On Sunday morning, Black appeared in court wearing an orange jumpsuit, and was quiet as a hearing officer declared that he would be held without the possibility of bond.
Later, it was revealed by ABC-13 that a second man had also been arrested. 24-year-old Larry Woodruffe is believed to be the shooter. Barnes’ mother LaPorsha Washington told ABC-13 Eyewitness News, “The detectives stopped by last night… They said they had two guys and that the gentlemen were black.” The sketches made from eyewitness testimony were of a white man in his 30’s to 40’s who was thought to drive a red pickup truck. Due to these circumstances, figures such as Bruno Mars, Shaquille O’Neal and Houston Texans receiver DeAndre Hopkins spoke out on social media about the racial implications of the case and pledged to pay for the young girl’s funeral.
Black’s account that was allegedly given to officers shortly after he was apprehended is what led to the swift action by Harris County officials. As the Chronicle notes, “He’d been driving the vehicle – a rented, dark-colored Kia and not a red pick-up – with a man named Larry Woodruffe in the passenger seat when they spotted a car they thought they recognized from earlier in the night. Woodruffe allegedly opened fire out the window as the pair drove by.”
The account has not quelled speculation that these two men were set-up, given the history of Houston Police and the police in general putting Black men in prison for things they didn’t do.
Lee Merritt, the attorney for Barnes’ family, gave ABC-13 an explanation for why many in the community and on social media have expressed skeptical views of the official account: “White people generally commit crimes against white people, black people generally commit crimes against black people, when you have the facts as they’re coming in of a white person committing a crime against a black person without any other motivation, there’s a natural inference that there is a racial implication involved.”