Another young Black life has been taken by senseless gun violence, this time in Houston, where a 7-year-old was shot and killed in a drive-by by an unknown assailant. However, some public figures believe the act was racially motivated, reports several news sources, including the Washington Post.
The gunman pulled up alongside a car early Sunday morning containing a mother driving four of her daughters to a convenience store for juice. A man opened fire, fatally wounding 7-year-old Jazmine Barnes, injuring the girl’s mother, LaPorsha Washington, and sending glass raining down on the other children in the car. The horrific killing in Houston, on the second-to-last day of the year, has drawn wide attention. It has been denounced by Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and gained traction after being the focus of writer and activist Shaun King and civil rights lawyer Lee Merritt, who say they’ve raised $75,000 in a private fundraising effort for any information leading to the suspect’s arrest.
Authorities have described the suspect as a bearded white man in his 40s. They have released a photo of the red pickup truck they believe he was driving. And they said a sketch of the suspect, made with assistance from Jazmine’s sisters, should be released on Thursday. At a news conference Wednesday, Gonzalez said that his office was poring through the tips that had flooded into his office after the killing but said that the sheriff’s office did not have any definitive idea of who the shooter was or why he would have targeted the family.
“We still don’t have any linkage to this family,” he said. “So it still seems random.” Merritt, who is working with Jazmine’s family, said they think the shooting was racially motivated. “That’s why I was brought on,” he said in a phone interview with the Washington Post on Wednesday. “We want to emphasize the racial nature of the attack and that hate-crime charges are appropriate.” Activists in Houston have pressed the sheriff’s office for answers on the case, and have also publicly questioned whether it was racially motivated. A rally is planned for Saturday.