A shattered community says final goodbye to 7-year-old Jazmine Barnes
Jazmine Barnes loved hugs, playing “classroom,” and singing louder than the radio. She had recently told her mom she wanted to be a teacher.
Today, relatives and friends will say their final goodbyes to the 7-year-old Texas girl, who was fatally shot while riding in a car with her mother and sisters last month.
The second-grader’s funeral will be held at the Community of Faith Church in Houston, Texas, with visitation beginning at 10 a.m. and funeral services at noon. The Sheldon Independent School District — where Jazmine was a student at Monahan Elementary — has urged attendees to wear purple, in Jazmine’s memory.
A store run turns tragic
Jazmine was shot the morning of December 30 as she sat in the back seat of her mother’s car during a trip to Joe V’s Smart Shop. LaPorsha Washington, Jazmine’s mother, said she noticed a red or maroon pickup truck stop next to them at a red light. Soon after, shots began targeting their car, shattering windows and injuring Washington. Jazmine, who would have turned eight next month, was shot in the head and killed.
Harris County officers initially described the shooter as a bearded white male, possibly in his 40s and said they believed the attack was “totally unprovoked.”
“There was nothing to indicate that the family did anything wrong in any way,” Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said.
As the case gained national attention, suspicion swirled that the attack was racially motivated. Jazmine and her mom and sisters are African-American.
But Saturday, investigators arrested a man who looks nothing like the initial eyewitness descriptions. The Harris County Sheriff’s Office filed capital murder charges against Eric Black Jr., 20, who is African-American. He is being held without bail.
Prosecutors said he confessed to driving the car from which Jazmine was shot, and a gun found in his home matched the eight shell casings found at the scene. He said a second man opened fire on the vehicle carrying Washington and her daughters.
An anonymous tipster told police Black and a second person, identified as “L.W.” shot at the car after mistaking it for another one.
The sheriff declined to name the second person, citing the investigation. Prosecutors identified Larry Woodruffe as the second suspect in a court hearing Saturday, the Houston Chronicle reported.
Jail records indicate Woodruffe, who also is African-American, is in custody on drug possession charges. He has not been charged in connection with the shooting.
The community rallies behind Jazmine’s family
Hundreds gathered Saturday to honor Jazmine outside the Walmart near where she was killed.
“I’m telling you, every time I see one of y’all reach out for me, I can hold my head up,” her mother said. “I can get up in the morning.”
Jazmine’s case has moved thousands of people across the country.
Social activist Shaun King and civil rights attorney S. Lee Merritt helped raise a $100,000 reward last week for any information leading to a break in the case.
A GoFundMe account set up to help cover funeral costs has raised more than $81,900 from nearly 3,000 donors.
Houston Texans receiver star DeAndre Hopkins has also said he will donate his $29,000 playoff game check to help with funeral costs.
“When I see Jazmine Barnes’ face, I see my own daughter,” he said.
And NBA great Shaquille O’Neal joined also has donated to help cover funeral costs. O’Neal and Houston Senior Police Officer Kenneth Miles brought a cashier’s check to the family last week to pay for the funeral.