HARRIS COUNTY, Texas - A 20-year-old man charged with capital murder for his involvement in Jazmine Barnes' death appeared in court early Sunday morning.
Investigators say the shooting is likely a case of mistaken identity.
Eric Black Jr. admitted to driving the vehicle involved in the 7-year-old's murder, according to court documents.
Black allegedly told investigators his passenger, identified in court as Larry W, was the one who shot at Barnes and her family.
During a press conference Sunday afternoon, Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said he is fairly certain two individuals were involved in Barnes' murder but a second person has not been charged just yet. He said that they are still trying to verify information on this person.
During court, it was learned that Black and Larry W. mistakenly targeted the wrong vehicle. They did not realize they had the wrong vehicle until they saw it on the news later in the day.
Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said Black became a target in the investigation based on a tip. Activist and journalist Shaun King told the sheriff that Black was involved in the shooting. King apparently received the tip from an anonymous source.
The sheriff said he and investigators were able to corroborate the information given and learn more about the case
The source told Sheriff Gonzalez that the two suspects were not in a red pickup truck like originally thought, but they were driving a rental car, later identified as a dark-colored Kia.
There was no mention of a red pickup truck during PC court, but Gonzalez said the driver of the truck likely witnessed the shooting, either by sight or sound.
The original description of a potential suspect - a white man in his 40s - was also incorrect.
"It appears to us, based on the information we've received, this was likely a case of mistaken identity, where the intended targets were someone else," Gonzalez said.
"This death of Jazmine has sparked a lot of discussion on many different levels. And I think that it is good that going forward we continue to have positive dialogue on a number of different issues. We know that there's important discussion that does need to take place about race, about the real feel and concern that hate crimes are in an uptick in this country. We also need to talk about gun violence."
HOW WAS ERIC BLACK ARRESTED?
Black was arrested on Saturday, Jan. 5. after a deputy pulled him over near the intersection of Woodforest and Beltway 8 for not signaling when he made a lane change, according to court documents. The deputy approached his vehicle and asked him for his license and registration. When Black opened the glove compartment, the deputy noticed a plastic bag of marijuana.
The deputy then asked Black to exit the vehicle. More marijuana was found on Black and inside his car. He was arrested and taken into custody for possession without incident.
Homicide investigators spoke with Black while in custody and he allegedly admitted to being involved with Barnes' murder. Black, who was driving a dark-colored Kia, said Larry W. spotted Barnes' mother's car and mistakenly took it for another vehicle they encountered the night before.
Barnes was shot in the head, a medical examiner confirmed. Her mother, LaPorsha Washington was hit in the arm.
Black returned the dark-colored Kia the day after the shooting and got a different rental, according to court documents.
The same day of his arrest, Black told investigators that the gun used in the shooting was at his home. He signed a consent to search his house and that's when investigators found a 9mm pistol consistent to the shell casings found at the scene of the shooting.
Black was given no bail.
After learning of the arrest of Black, Mayor Sylvester Turner released a statement thanking the Harris County Sheriff's Office, and all other law enforcement involved, for their hard work.
"This should serve as a warning to all violent offenders who prey on our community: The color of your skin, how much money you make - these things don’t matter when law enforcement will find you, eventually."
Sheriff Gonzalez also released a statement saying that he is grateful to all the dedicated investigators and tipsters who assisted his department with this case.
"Our work is not finished, but I believe the people of Harris County can take comfort in knowing we have made great progress."
Black's next court appearance is Monday at 9 a.m.