There were important developments overnight in the murder earlier this week of 7-year-old Jazmine Barnes, who was killed last Sunday morning when someone opened fire on the car she was riding in with her mother and three sisters. Two men have been arrested in the case, and one has already been charged with capital murder.
Jazmine’s mother, LaPorsha Washington, was shot in the arm and her younger sister was wounded by shattering glass. Her two teenage sisters were unharmed.
From her hospital bed, Washington answered questions from reporters on Tuesday:
Jazmine’s murder became a national and international story as the manhunt for the suspects continued.
Overnight, Larry Woodruffe (24) and Eric Black, Jr. (20) were arrested in the case, and Black charged with capital murder. Local media reports indicate that Woodruffe is believed to be the shooter.
#HCSO homicide investigators have filed a capital murder charge against Eric Black Jr. for the shooting death of 7-year-old Jazmine Barnes — full release: https://t.co/upLn3yRRgn #HouNews #JusticeForJazmine pic.twitter.com/shYLmXmobT
— HCSOTexas (@HCSOTexas) January 6, 2019
BREAKING: @HCSOTexas has identified 1st suspect in #JazmineBarnes murder as Eric Black, Jr. 20. I can also confirm a 2nd suspect as Larry Woodruffe, 24 (below). He is believed to be the shooter. No connection to Jazmine or her family, per sources. https://t.co/wnaXDXVOO0 #abc13 pic.twitter.com/YsYvUSZX4g
— Jessica Willey (@ImJessicaWilley) January 6, 2019
Eric Black Jr., 20, has been arrested and charged with capital murder in the shooting death of 7 year old Jazmine Barnes in Texas. Authorities say a tip led them to Black and he admitted to taking part in the shooting. #JazmineBarnes https://t.co/BkVIsJ8hqR pic.twitter.com/hLYKlJSI33
— Shomari Stone (@shomaristone) January 6, 2019
Police believe that the killing was a case of mistaken identity, and that Jazmine’s family had no prior contact with the suspects.
— HCSOTexas (@HCSOTexas) January 6, 2019
Many will be relieved at the announcement of the arrests of suspects. Prominent media and sports personalities spoke out for justice in her case, such as Grammy Award-winning singer Bruno Mars:
— Bruno Mars (@BrunoMars) January 4, 2019
Former NBA star Shaquille O’Neal promised to pay for Jazmine’s funeral, and Houston Texans receiver DeAndre Hopkins said that he will donate the $29,000 check from his playoff game this weekend to the family.
On Saturday, DeAndre Hopkins will donate his game check and play in honor Jazmine Barnes, a 7-year-old girl killed in a drive-by shooting in Houston.
— Houston Texans (@HoustonTexans) January 3, 2019
Hundreds of people gathered at a rally yesterday in a Walmart parking lot near where the shooting occurred, with Jazmine’s mother thanking supporters and Houston-area Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee speaking at the event.
Jazmine’s funeral will be held on Tuesday.
Sadly, some commentators tried to politicize Jazmine’s tragic murder to flame racial grievances and widen community divisions.
This was aided by information on a possible suspect, now known to be incorrect, put out by the Harris County Sheriff’s Office and amplified by the media.
The initial description of the suspect was a white man with a beard. Subsequently, a sketch of a white man without a beard was distributed by the sheriff’s office.
This is the man witnesses say murdered 7-year-old Jazmine Barnes on 12/30 as her family drove on the E. Sam Houston Pkwy frontage road at Wallisville Road. Thin white man, 30's-40's, in a red pickup. Call 713-221-6000 or @CrimeStopHOU at 713-222-TIPS #JusticeForJazmine #hounews pic.twitter.com/URR3w2Wxbm
— HCSOTexas (@HCSOTexas) January 3, 2019
— ABC13 Houston (@abc13houston) January 3, 2019
Commentators and some media outlets hyped the racial angle to the story, including international media:
TEXAS: Police release a composite sketch of the suspect wanted in connection with the drive-by shooting murder of a seven-year-old girl – Jazmine Barnes
Race is considered a possible motive for the shooting. pic.twitter.com/TDNwtJW8i8
— Natasha Fatah (@NatashaFatah) January 5, 2019
Predictably, some of the usual race-baiting grifters sought to wade into the tragedy:
URGENT. ALL HANDS ON DECK.
A 40 y/o white man w/ a beard in a red pickup truck pulled up on 7 y/o Jazmine Barnes and her family near a Houston @Walmart and shot and killed her and injured others.
I am joining the search for her killer and have a $25,000 reward.
Need him NOW. pic.twitter.com/ugfA2nJ1k8
— Shaun King (@shaunking) January 1, 2019
Stopped by the barbershop to get a cut. The topic of #JazmineBarnes came up— “a little girl in Houston killed in a drive-by”.
That is not what happened! A white terrorist ambushed a family, riddling their car with bullets and killing a 7 y/o girl w/o any provocation.
— S. Lee Merritt, Esq. (@MeritLaw) January 4, 2019
Shaun King, a former “senior justice writer” at the New York Daily News, also publicly implicated others who had no connection to Jazmine’s murder:
If this sounds familiar to readers, it’s because King and his pal Lee Meritt have played this game before.
Last May, Meritt publicly claimed that one of his clients, Sherita Dixon-Cole, had been kidnapped and raped by a Texas State Trooper, and then began an active campaign to target the trooper:
King was doing media hits pushing the story hyping the racial angle to the claims.
But shortly thereafter, the Texas Department of Public Safety released the trooper’s entire body camera footage of the encounter, which clearly showed that the trooper had acted professionally and that there had been no kidnapping or rape.
Both King and Meritt then claimed that *they* were the real victims of the case:
When the “victim” you fought for turns out to be the victimizer: Sherita Dixon-Cole and the painful consequences of a false report of sexual assault and police misconduct.
My open thoughts.https://t.co/2a0gzEXZVI
— Shaun King (@shaunking) May 23, 2018
In his article proclaiming himself the victim, King expressed no apology or remorse for targeting the innocent trooper. Understandably, he came under fire for inserting himself into the matter.
In the present case of Jazmine Barnes’ tragic murder, King is now proclaiming that he’s the hero who helped solve the case, not a racial huckster who was trying to exploit it:
BREAKING: Two men that I reported to @SheriffEd_HCSO on this past Thursday have been arrested and charged with the capital murder of Jazmine Barnes.
Names: Larry Woodruffe and Eric Black
It took us from Thursday to Sunday to truly understand this case.
— Shaun King (@shaunking) January 6, 2019
So let's get this straight — Shaun King claims he got a tip on Thursday that Jazmine Barnes' killer was not white, as previously described. But on *Friday* he suggests that this white guy was the killer. pic.twitter.com/pUMNsfoAA9
— Chuck Ross (@ChuckRossDC) January 6, 2019
King has claimed to have raised a $60,000 reward for any information leading to the arrest of Jazmine Barnes’ killers.
But questions about King’s past fundraising ventures, including the mishandling of $60,000 he raised for the funeral of Tamir Rice, who had been shot by police, raise concerns about what may happen to the money raised in this instance.
It will be difficult for the family of Jazmine Barnes to find comfort following their loss, but most observers are likely to hope that the family will be able to begin to heal from the physical and emotional wounds.
But a public discussion on the ongoing role of the media in encouraging and amplifying racial hatred stirred up by grievance grifters like Shaun King should take place. That’s unlikely to happen.