Suspects in Jazmine Barnes' murder allegedly have gang ties

Courtney Fischer Image
Thursday, January 10, 2019
HPD Chief Art Acevedo addresses gang violence in Houston
HPD Chief Art Acevedo addresses gang violence in Houston

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- As Jazmine Barnes was laid to rest Tuesday, a second suspect was charged with her murder.

Larry Woodruffe, 24, now faces a capital murder charge along with Eric Black Jr., 20, who was charged over the weekend.

Investigators say Woodruffe fired eight shots into Jazmine's mother's car early on Sunday, Dec. 30, killing the 7-year-old and injuring her mother. The shooting was reportedly a case of mistaken identity, with the gunfire stemming as retaliation from an earlier fight that didn't involve Jazmine's family.

RELATED: Family of man wrongfully accused by activist Shaun King in Jazmine Barnes' shooting speaks out

Family of man wrongfully accused by activist Shaun King in Jazmine Barnes' shooting speaks out

On Woodruffe's now-deleted Instagram, a photo was posted after the deadly shooting of the co-defendants. In it, Woodruffe is showing off a fan of cash. Black is flashing gang signs.

Authorities also confirmed that Black was arrested in Jennings, Louisiana in March 2017, after being pulled over during a traffic stop.

The Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office told Eyewitness News that Black was driving a car with several other passengers when he was stopped for speeding.

During a search of the vehicle, authorities reportedly found a small bag of marijuana and a gun with a scratched off serial number. Black was then arrested and booked into the Jefferson Parish Jail on a weapons charge.

In March 2018, Black pleaded guilty to illegally carrying a weapon and was placed on probation for one year. The probation was adjusted to "unsupervised probation," which meant he could remotely check-in.

Black's probation was set to end in March 2019.

Tuesday night, Woodruffe's gang affiliation got the attention of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. On Twitter, he retweeted Houston Police Officers Union President Joe Gamaldi saying, "There are too many gangs in Houston. We must expand the Texas Anti-Gang Task Force in Houston to clean our streets of this trash and restore safety."

RELATED: What you need to know about gangs and gang violence in Houston

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner responded to Gov. Abbott's tweet writing, "Violent deaths like these are tragic no matter where they take place. This one did not take place in the city of Houston. There are too many gangs across the whole state; more school funding and economic opportunities would help reduce their numbers; but further capping cities' revenue would prevent them from hiring more police."

On Wednesday, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo responded by saying that the way to combat crimes in cities across Texas is to pour more funding into local communities.

He suggested doing that by taking some of the $400 million the governor says the state spends a year on border security and applying those funds to local law enforcement.

"Had we spent that money providing grants for crime fighting in our big cities across the state of Texas, I can promise you it would have been much better spent, with a much better return," said Acevedo.

He also said there are 20,000 registered gang members in the city of Houston.

According to the 2018 Texas Gang Threat Assessment, there are more than 100,000 gang members in the state. The report says the state's five anti-gang centers work when it comes to targeting gang activity. The first one opened in Houston in 2013. But, in 2017, state police concluded Harris County has the most gang activity in the whole state.

Gov. Greg Abbott addresses gang issues in Texas and what's being doing about it.

In September, Gov. Abbott pledged an additional $10 million to build more anti-gang centers during the opening of the latest one in McAllen. As of then, 10 children had been killed in Houston by gangs in the last year. Officers identified at least 30 gangs present in Houston.

Houston and Harris County have their own task forces to combat gang violence. In 2017, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo announced the creation of two new "squads" focused solely on investigating gang activity.

SEE ALSO: What we know about the fatal shooting of Jazmine Barnes

In the days after Jazmine Barnes' death, local support to find her killer turned into a nationwide effort.