Texas Democratic Congressman stands by remarks suggesting Jazmine Barnes’ killing ‘hate crime’

connectVideoEric Black Jr. was arrested and charged with capital murder for the deaths of Jazmine Barnes after police got a tip

Black has admitted to take part in the recording as the director.

A Texas Democratic Congressman is defending her earlier remarks suggest the drive-by shooting of 7-year-old Jazmine Barnes may have been a hate crime, even though both defendants in the case appeared to be black and not white individual if the police and members of the public initially believed.

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, when asked Sunday by a journalist about a number of the comments made in the aftermath of the young girl’s death in Houston on Dec. 30, said it was “absolutely not” irresponsible to make that suggestion.

Barnes was shot and killed while sitting in the back seat of her mother in the car. Witness descriptions of a white man in the forty at the scene of the shooting and a sketch of the police prompted widespread speculation of a hate crime had happened.

“I believe, and that written hate crime law, to know the criteria, I believe that this should be seen as a hate crime,” Lee said during a press conference Friday in a video posted on the Congress and the Facebook page. “We don’t want on the street, someone who is willing to kill children and possibly killing them in the name of hate.”

Christopher Cevilla, the father of the 7-year-old Jazmine Barnes, speaks during a press conference Monday, Dec. 31, 2018, in Houston.
(Nicole Hensley/Houston Chronicle via AP)

The next day, at a meeting to call for justice for Barnes, Lee said: “do not be afraid to call this what it appears to be — a hate crime,” according to various news organizations.

Prior to the arrest, Barnes’ family lawyer, Lee Merritt, also said: “we believe it [the murder] was racially motivated in part because our country is at this time highly racially charged.”

But both defendants in the case are black, the police confirmed to the telegraph on Monday.

One of them, the 20-year-old Eric Black, Jr., is charged with capital murder and makes his first appearance today. The news of his arrest came the Sunday.

Moments after the police announced that Black was in custody, Merritt wrote in an Instagram post a second suspect, Larry Woodruffe, 24, was arrested in the shooting. Woodruffe is believed to be the shooter in the incident, according to Merritt, even though the police Monday confirmed the arrest, his identity or alleged role, the AP says.

The reporter on Sunday, asked Lee: “do you feel it was irresponsible at all to suggest that this is a hate crime if we do not yet have all the facts?”

Her answer: “no, Absolutely not, nothing is irresponsible when it comes to the loss of a loved one 7 or 8 years old.”

She added: “The good thing was that in the comments that were made, there was no hysteria, there was no encouraging individuals to go in search of that person. It was nothing but orderly respect for the rule of law, so our law enforcement are able to do their tasks. And now to call for an understanding that any violence against a child should not be the norm and that we must stand up against all violence.”

The researchers believe that the killing seems to be a case of mistaken identity “where the objectives were likely to be of someone else,” Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said Sunday.


“This death has led to a lot of discussion on many different levels,” Gonzalez said. “We know that there is an important discussion need to take place about the breed, about the fear and the worry that hate crimes are in an uptick in this country. We also need to talk about gun violence.”

Fox News’ Katherine Lam and Dom Calicchio contributed to this report.

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