I wanted to take a few minutes to give you all a detailed update on where the case stands, how we got there, and what I think is next.
Soon after Jazmine was killed, it was announced by law enforcement in Houston that they were searching for a white man in a red truck. In fact, the only image police released was of this red truck speeding away from the scene.
Because of my history of tracking down white supremacists and bringing them to justice, members of Jazmine’s family and others asked if I would come on the case to help locate her killer. For about a week, I spend 12-14 hours a day on this case, cutting my vacation with my family short, and announced that I would be offering a reward for any information leading to the killer.
I received hundreds of tips. Thousands. 99% of them were garbage, but about 5-6 of them were out of thousands, were actually useful. I spoke directly with multiple credible eyewitnesses who actually heard the gunshots and saw a red truck driving away.
None of them, not one of them, actually saw the shooting, but because we were all told the red truck was driven by the shooter, they assumed they saw the shooter. I assumed they saw the shooter.
But on Thursday I received an anonymous tip stating that everything we thought we knew was wrong. Now, I received dozens of tips like this, but they were all fake, and designed to throw me off, but this one was different. It was urgent, and offered very specific details on the case.
As shocking as it was, I was convinced that it could be real, and forwarded it to the sheriff. It just took the sheriff and I from Thursday to Saturday to actually confirm that the details we had were actually true and that it was not a white man in a red truck who was the shooter, but two young black men in a completely different vehicle.
Both of those men were arrested late Saturday night, one has admitted his role in the murder, and both are being held in jail.
I want to be clear about a few things that I know for sure.
These young men absolutely shot and killed Jazmine Barnes. It’s not a conspiracy to protect the white man in the red truck. They did it.
At first we were told they shot at the car because they believed it was somebody else, and that could very well be true, but I truly don’t know why they shot. Over the past 48 hours I’ve continued to learn disturbing new details about the incident, but I’m not sure we’ll fully know the truth until we have a trial in this case – which could be months or even years from now.
What I do know is this – a sweet little baby was shot and killed. Everybody who knew Jazmine Barnes adored her. She was smart and kind and had huge dreams – and now she’s gone. I promised her family that we’d find her killer – and we did that.
But I have two closing thoughts that I’d like to share.
First, as strange as it is, I’m not sure we ever would’ve found the men who killed Jazmine Barnes, had the initial conclusion not been so wrong. I was brought onto this case to track a potential hate crime. What I found was something altogether different, but I don’t know that anyone ever would’ve come forward without the outrage. I don’t quite know what that means, or how I feel about it, but the initial outrage, misguided as it was, it what eventually helped us find the killers.
And I’ll close with this thought.
When we work together, like we did in this case, we can do anything. I know it was messy, but we solved a murder in 6 days. We did that.
The same energy that we used here can be applied to whatever type of social change we want it to be used for. Voting reform, criminal justice reform, education reform, or any other type of empowerment we choose.
When we work together, with one goal, in one direction, on one accord, we win. My only hope is that could work together like this without it being a reaction to a tragedy. Let’s do this proactively to build up our communities and organize in smart new ways. Let’s not wait until another baby girl is shot and killed, let’s do smart stuff now.
I’ve gotta run, but thank each of you for your love and support over this past week. I felt it.