Grieving father of Jazmine Barnes speaks on the arrest of two suspects in fatal shooting
It has been a heartbreaking week for the parents of 7-year-old Jazmine Barnes who was gunned down in a drive-by shooting near a Houston-area Walmart on December 30.
On Sunday, her dad, Christopher Cevilla opened up about the news that his daughter’s alleged killers had been captured after a week-long manhunt that ended with the arrests of 20-year-old Eric Black and 24-year old Larry Woodruffe, the Houston Chronicle reports.
“Now my baby has gotten justice,” Cevilla said outside the Harris County Jail. “Now we can properly put her to rest without having to still be on a manhunt looking for a suspect.”
It was a case that dominated headlines after Barnes died when a stream of bullets shot up her mother’s vehicle in a case of mistaken identity, police said.
On Saturday, Harris County Sheriff’s Office homicide investigators filed a capital murder charge against Eric Black Jr. for the fatal shooting of Barnes.
According to Houston ABC affiliate KTRK, 20-year-old Black confessed to playing a role in the Dec. 30 shooting. Black became a target of the investigation through a tip received by journalist and activist Shaun King, who has been involved in the case since the beginning and has offered a substantial reward for information leading to an arrest.
A second suspect, Woodruffe, has also been arrested. According to KTRK, sources say Woodruffe is believed to be the shooter.
“I am grateful to our dedicated investigators, the partner law enforcement agencies that provided vital assistance, and tipsters from across the nation who pulled together to support our work to get justice for Jazmine,” Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said over the weekend.
“Our work is not finished, but I believe the people of Harris County can take comfort in knowing we have made great progress.”
Initially race was thought to be a motive in the shooting as the assailant was described as a white man driving a red pickup truck. Shaun King had offered a $100,000 reward for information leading to the gunman’s arrest. Rallies took place around Houston demanding justice for Barnes and many questioned why more had not been done to catch the assailant.
A tip naming Black and another man as the suspects was sent to King who then passed it along to Gonzalez which led authorities to Black’s Instagram account.
Black reportedly also led police to the murder weapon, a 9 mm pistol, revealing that it was still at his house.
Mayor Sylvester Turner expressed his appreciation for the police work to solve the case.
“The authorities worked around the clock to find the individual who is allegedly responsible for the heinous and unspeakable act of violence against an innocent child,” Turner said in a statement early Sunday. “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.”
Jasmine Barnes is scheduled to be laid to rest today at Community of Faith Church.