Sheriff unsure if race was a factor in the shooting of Texas girl
POLICE in Texas continue to investigate what prompted a weekend shooting that killed a 7-year-old black girl after activists claimed the incident was racially motivated.
Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said during a news conference that the investigation into the death of Jazmine Barnes was focused on collecting evidence and on developing leads.
“We’re not tone-deaf to some of the concerns in our community where this could be potentially race-related,” Gonzalez said, adding that road rage could be another consideration.
He said he didn’t want to speculate on a possible motive to limit the scope of an investigation that has one primary aim – finding the shooter.
The sheriff said investigators were “not ruling anything out”.
Authorities are searching for a white, bearded man who was driving a red four-door pick-up, captured on surveillance video shortly before the shooting on the eastern outskirts of Houston.
Jazmine died at the scene and her mother, Laporsha Washington, suffered a gunshot wound to the arm.
The driver of the pick-up pulled alongside Washington’s car and fired inside, authorities said.
Houston activists held a news conference on Wednesday at which they said that they believed the attack was racially motivated.
“Black people are being targeted in this country, black people are being targeted in this county, black people are being targeted in this city,” activist Deric Muhammad said.
“So we are thoroughly convinced that the killing of Jazmine Barnes was race-related.”
Gonzalez described last Sunday’s shooting as “totally unprovoked” and asked people who lived in the neighbourhood where the incident took place to review their surveillance videos.
A distraught Washington earlier told the KTRK-TV station from her hospital bed that the gunman sped up after firing into her car, only to pull in front and slow down before firing again.
“He intentionally killed my child for no reason,” Gonzalez said. “He didn’t even know her, he didn’t know who she was.”
She said the shooting occurred on a service road as the family were heading to a store.
Jazmine’s father, Christopher Cevilla, said his daughter was a loving and caring girl who was “very smart in school”. |
HARRIS County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez makes a plea for the gunman responsible for killing 7-year-old Jazmine Barnes to turn himself in during a press conference earlier this week. | AP African News Agency (ANA)