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The Latest: Sheriff: Man in truck was witness, not suspect

January 7, 2019
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People attend a community rally outside a Walmart on East Sam Houston Pkwy N in Houston on Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019 for 7-year-old Jazmine Barnes, who was killed on Sunday. Jazmine was shot to death nearby while riding in a car with her mother and three sisters. (Melissa Phillip/Houston Chronicle via AP)

HOUSTON (AP) — The Latest on the investigation into the shooting death of 7-year-old Jazmine Barnes (all times local):

3:15 p.m.

A Texas sheriff says authorities now believe that a man in a red pickup who was being sought in the shooting death of a 7-year-old black girl was actually just a witness.

Authorities said Sunday that the killing of Jazmine Barnes appears to have been a case of mistaken identity, not a racially motivated attack as her family feared.

The family had described the shooter as a white man in a red pickup. Authorities say the suspects they’ve identified are both African-American.

Sheriff Ed Gonzalez says the shooting happened very quickly while Jazmine, her mother and three sisters were at a stoplight. He says it’s likely that the red pickup truck was the last thing seen by Jazmine’s sisters before gunfire broke out. He also noted that it was dark out at the time.

Gonzalez says authorities still hope to talk to the person in the red pickup to get his account of what happened.

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2:45 p.m.

A local sheriff says race does not appear to be a factor in a drive-by shooting that killed a 7-year-old black girl.

Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez cautioned Sunday that authorities are still investigating the Dec. 30 shooting of Jazmine Barnes, but said it seems to be a case involving mistaken identity. He says, “At this point, it does not appear it was related to race.”

Jazmine’s family had believed the shooting was racially motivated.

Gonzalez said authorities have identified two suspects and that both are African-American. One, 20-year-old Eric Black Jr. is in custody and has been charged with capital murder.

Gonzalez would not say whether the second suspect is in custody.

He says a person in a red truck whom authorities had been seeking earlier appears to have just been a witness.

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12:50 p.m.

The father of a 7-year-old black girl who was fatally shot as her family drove to a grocery store in Houston says he’s relieved an arrest has been made in his daughter’s death.

Chris Sevilla said in a brief telephone interview Sunday he was feeling “a bit of relief” after an arrest in the slaying of his daughter, Jazmine Barnes.

In a statement, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner thanked authorities for their “diligent work” in arresting 20-year-old Eric Black Jr.

Jazmine’s family had believed the shooting was racially motivated, but prosecutors said Sunday the killing was a case of mistaken identity. Black is African-American.

Prosecutors say he was driving an SUV from which an unidentified passenger fired upon the car Jazmine and her family were in on Dec. 30.

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9:40 a.m.

Authorities have charged a 20-year-old black man in the death of 7-year-old black girl in what prosecutors are saying was a case of mistaken identity.

The family of Jazmine Barnes had believed her death had been racially motivated. They had identified a white man in a red truck as the shooter.

But during a court hearing early Sunday, prosecutors said Eric Black Jr. admitted to investigators he was driving a dark-colored Kia SUV when a passenger in his vehicle identified as “Larry” opened fire on the car with Jazmine.

Prosecutors say a confidential source told the Harris County Sheriff’s Office the suspects had “shot the car by mistake.”

Black has been charged with capital murder.

It was not immediately known whether the other suspect has been arrested.

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2 a.m.

Authorities in Texas have filed charges against a suspect in the shooting death of a 7-year-old black girl.

The Harris County Sherriff’s Office say 20-year-old Eric Black Jr. was charged early Sunday with capital murder in the Dec. 30 slaying of Jazmine Barnes. Police say they identified the suspect based on a tip that was corroborated by their investigation.

Police say Black “admitted to taking part in the shooting” after he was taken into custody.

Investigators had said the case had “taken a new direction” shortly before the charges were announced.

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12:55 a.m.

Authorities in Texas say “persons of interest” are being interviewed in the investigation into the shooting death of a 7-year-old black girl.

Jazmine Barnes was shot and killed in Houston on Dec. 30 after investigators say a suspect pulled alongside the car the girl was riding in with her family and fired into the vehicle. The shooting occurred as the family was heading to a store.

The Harris County Sheriff’s Office posted on Twitter late Saturday that persons of interest are being questioned, and that the investigation has “taken a new direction.” The sheriff’s office did not elaborate.

Earlier Saturday, hundreds of people gathered at a rally for the girl near where the shooting happened. Jazmine’s family has said they believe the shooting was racially motivated.

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People attend a community rally outside a Walmart on East Sam Houston Pkwy N in Houston on Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019 for 7-year-old Jazmine Barnes, who was killed on Sunday. Jazmine was shot to death nearby while riding in a car with her mother and three sisters. (Melissa Phillip/Houston Chronicle via AP)