HOUSTON – Investigators released new surveillance video of a pickup being sought and a sketch of the gunman in connection with the slaying of a 7-year-old girl in east Harris County.
Jazmine Barnes was shot in the head about 7 a.m. Sunday as her family’s vehicle was traveling on the Beltway 8 feeder road at Wallisville Road.
Investigators said a red, four-door pickup pulled alongside the vehicle and someone in the truck began firing. The shooter was initially described by investigators as a bearded white man, possibly in his 40s, who was wearing a red hooded sweatshirt, but Thursday afternoon the family clarified the description. They said the man had stubble, like a 5 o’clock shadow, and was wearing a black hoodie.
During a news conference Thursday afternoon, Sheriff Ed Gonzalez expressed condolences to the family as some of the latest details in the case were released to journalists.
"We’re not going to rest until there is justice for Jazmine," Gonzalez said.
As an enhanced image of the gunman's truck and first sketch of his face has been released, Gonzalez said all kinds of resources are being used to find the man who killed Barnes, with assistance at the local, state and federal levels.
“We’re continuing to proceed with different strategies to try to find this coward of a killer, this person who does not need to be on the streets,” Gonzalez said.
With the newly released sketch, Gonzalez noted initially the gunman was described as having a beard, but now he has been described as having stubble on his face or a "5 o'clock shadow." Gonzalez stressed that the man could have shaved or grown a mustache since he was seen on Sunday.
New details on his description have been released including:
- Blue eyes
- Thin build
- Black hooded sweatshirt (previously described as red)
Gonzalez said the investigators' main focus is identifying the man and finding the truck.
"Right now, it’s a "whodunit" right now. and once I determine who did this and where this vehicle is then we’ll understand motive a little bit better," Gonzalez said.
The sheriff acknowledged the description of the killer is white but has not ruled out the possibility that he could also be Hispanic.
Authorities are looking at surveillance video along the route Jazmine’s mother took the day of the shooting.
It’s about a 3-mile radius that starts at the intersection of Tidwell Road and C.E King Parkway and ends near the Walmart by the Beltway where the shooting happened.
Another shooting case from 2017 involved a white shooter and African-American male victim in the general vicinity, but Gonzalez said at this point there is not a direct connection between the cases.
Meanwhile, members of Jazmine’s family spoke to the media earlier Thursday, saying some of the description provided to investigators has been mischaracterized.
“An important detail that I think has been misreported up until this point – no one has reported seeing a beard,” said a representative of the family who was at the news conference. “At best, a stubble or a five o’clock shadow, but there’s no beard.”
They added that the man appeared to have blue eyes and a thin build.
Jazmine’s mother, LaPorsha Washington, said she is surprised her 15-year-old daughter, who provided a description of the gunman to investigators, is able to remember anything at all after surviving such a traumatic event.
Also on Thursday, investigators released new surveillance video of the pickup in question.
“We didn’t do anything wrong to this man,” Washington said.
Christopher Cevilla, Jazmine’s father, said that he is confident his daughter’s killer will be brought to justice, and he won’t allow the case to go cold.
“Justice will prevail, and I will be leading the charge,” Cevilla said.
The story has garnered national attention, with an activist in New York offering a $100,000 reward to the person who turns in the gunman.
Anyone with information about the case is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 713-222-8477.