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World & Nation

Reward offered in search for gunman who shot into family car, killing 7-year-old Texas girl

Christopher Cevilla
Christopher Cevilla, father of 7-year-old Jazmine Barnes, at a news conference in Houston.
(Nicole Hensley / Houston Chronicle)

Investigators in Houston are searching for a man in a pickup truck who pulled up next to a family’s car and started shooting, killing a 7-year-old girl and wounding the girl’s mother.

Now a $35,000 reward has been offered for any tip leading to an arrest in the fatal shooting of Jazmine Barnes. A red four-door pickup was captured on surveillance video shortly before the shooting Sunday morning in the eastern outskirts of Houston.

Jazmine, a second-grader, died at the scene and her mother, LaPorsha Washington, was shot in the arm. One of Jazmine’s three sisters who were also in the car was hurt by shattered glass.

Sheriff Ed Gonzalez has declined to speculate on what prompted the shooting, describing it as “totally unprovoked.”

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The Sheriff’s Office has asked people who live nearby to review their surveillance videos.

Lee Merritt, a national civil rights attorney with an office in Dallas, and New York-based activist and writer Shaun King have offered a $35,000 reward for a tip that would lead to an arrest.

Merritt said Wednesday that he understands his and King’s high profiles as activists mean they will reach a lot of people with their appeal. Merritt said they will pass on any leads to the Sheriff’s Office.

A distraught Washington told KTRK-TV 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,” she said. “He didn’t even know her; he didn’t know who she was.”

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Gonzalez said the shooting occurred on a service road as the family was heading to a store.

The gunman was described as a white bearded man in his 40s wearing a red hoodie.

Jazmine’s father, Christopher Cevilla, who appeared with Gonzalez at Monday’s news briefing, pleaded with the public to provide relevant tips to authorities so that an arrest can be made.

“My daughter was 7 years old, loving, caring, very passionate with people, very sweet, just an innocent young girl,” Cevilla said. “Very smart in school. There’s just a lot of things that’s being robbed of me and my family at this moment that we will never be able to get back.”


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