A manhunt with a $35,000 reward is underway for a man suspected of fatally shooting a 7-year-old Texas girl in what’s being investigated as a potentially random drive-by attack.
Jazmine Barnes was traveling with her mother and three sisters on Sunday morning in northeast Houston when authorities said a man drove up beside them in a pickup truck and began shooting into their vehicle just before 7 a.m.
“It just seems to be random,” Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said at a press conference on Monday. “There is nothing to indicate that the family did anything wrong in any way. They were simply just driving along the service road when this happened to them.”
Jazmine’s mother, LaPorsha Washington, who spoke to Houston station KHOU from a hospital bed while recovering from a gunshot wound to her arm, said one of her daughters was the first to find Jazmine suffering a gunshot wound to her head.
“She said, ‘Mama, she’s not moving, she’s not answering.’ I turned around and looked and my 7-year-old was leaning against the door and she was not moving, she was not moving. I knew then that she was gone,” Washington recalled through tears.
Washington said she instructed one daughter to call 911 and another daughter to look for the nearest hospital on her phone. Finding one that was just minutes away, she said she desperately sped off towards it only to stop halfway because a bullet appeared to have blown out one of her tires.
“I didn’t want to flip the car and put us in any more danger that we were already in,” she said. “We pulled over on the median and my two oldest got out and started flagging and screaming for help, flagging and screaming for help and cars were just passing us by, nobody would stop for us at first.”
Washington said a black man finally stopped and offered to call 911 and give emergency responders directions as Washington fought blood loss from her injury.
Washington’s 6-year-old child also suffered non-life-threatening injuries from broken glass, Gonzalez said.
The suspect has been described as a white man in his 40s with a beard. He fled in a four-door red or maroon-colored truck. Authorities released a surveillance photo on Monday of the vehicle taken before the attack occurred.
It remains unclear whether the attack was at random or a hate crime, authorities have said.
Journalist Shaun King and civil rights attorney Lee Merritt are offering a $35,000 reward for information leading to the gunman’s arrest.
Jazmine’s father, Christopher Cevilla, has also issued a public plea for help tracking down his daughter’s killer.
“I just want anybody, whoever, out there that knows anything about the murder of my daughter to just please step up as if it was your own because at this point just put yourself in my shoes and my family’s shoes,” he said at Monday’s press conference.
Anyone with information is asked to call 713-274-9100 or Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS. Anonymous tips can also be submitted online at www.Crime-Stoppers.org.