Authorities interviewing ‘persons of interest’ in murder of 7-year-old Jazmine Barnes
Authorities in Texas said they are interviewing “persons of interest” in the high-profile murder of 7-year-old Jazmine Barnes, according to a tweet issued late Saturday night.
Meanwhile, a law enforcement source told ABC News that a suspect was in custody late Saturday night on suspicion of opening fire on Barnes’ African-American family’s car in Texas, wounding her mother and killing her, in an attack believed by the surviving victims to be a racially motivated hate crime.
Law enforcement officers had previously described the suspect as a white man driving a red pickup truck, and a reward for information about the shooter was raised this week to $100,000. However, Harris County Sheriff’s Office tweeted late Saturday that, “The Jazmine Barnes Homicide investigation has taken a new direction.”
“We didn’t do anything wrong to this man. It was something in his mind that he had planned on doing beforehand,” Washington said during a news conference on Thursday afternoon. “This is something that I believe was a hate crime.”
“I don’t know if he’s out there sick, you know, doing this because he’s getting off to it or whatever it is,” said Washington, who suffered a bullet wound to the left arm in the unprovoked shooting while trying to shield her oldest daughter, Alexis Dilbert, 15. “But he’s taking innocent lives and that’s not fair. It’s not right.”
During Thursday’s news conference, Alxis said she briefly saw the gunman and described him as white with blue eyes and wearing a black hoodie. She said he did not have a beard or glasses as some media outlets have reported.
“It was like a look into his car. You know like you’re driving and you just look into somebody’s car and make eye contact and look back,” Alxis said of seeing the gunman.
The case has also prompted celebrities to get involved in supporting Jazmine’s family and helping in the hunt for the killer.
DeAndre Hopkins, a wide receiver for the Houston Texans football team, pledged Thursday to donate his playoff game check this Saturday to pay for Jazmine’s funeral. Hopkins stands to earn about $29,000 from the playoff game against the Indianapolis Colts.
“I have a 5-year-old daughter. It could have been anybody in that position on this team … anybody in this city. … It’s unfortunate,” Hopkins told Houston ABC station KTRK.
Actresses Gabrielle Union and Olivia Wilde also spread the word on social media about the hunt for the killer. “Find him. This evil monster,” Union tweeted. Wilde also took to Twitter, writing, “Please help find this murderer if you can.”
Meanwhile, Jazmine’s mother pleaded with the killer to give himself up.
“I feel like it’s not going to be no amount of money,” she said of the reward. “It’s going to have to be him. His heart is going to finally get to him. His conscience is finally going to get to him. After he sees my child’s face go across his TV so many times, he’s going to turn himself in.”
ABC News’ Gina Sunseri contributed to this report.