HOUSTON, TX — A reward for information leading to the arrest of the killer of a 7-year-old Texas girl has been raised to $75,000 as investigators analyzed and compared shell casings from the crime scene to those of unsolved shootings in the Houston area.
Law enforcement officers are combing northeast Houston where a suspect, described by investigators as a white man driving a red pickup truck, opened fire on an African-American family's car, killing Jazmine Barnes and wounding her mother, LaPorsha Washington.
An official briefed on the investigationtold ABC News Thursday that federal agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are comparing shell casings from Jazmine's shooting to those in other cases to see if there are any connections.
On Wednesday, Houston civil rights activists and religious leaders raised the specter that the random attack on Jazmine and her family was a hate crime and noted its similarities with an unsolved shooting in 2017 that left an African-American man seriously wounded.
A'Vonta Williams, now 22, was shot in an apparently random attack on Aug. 30, 2017, as he drove his car about six miles from where Jazmine was shot. Officials said Williams was shot by a white man driving a pickup truck.
Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said Wednesday that investigators from his agency are taking a fresh look at Williams' shooting to see if anything was missed.
Gonzalez said Jazmine's sisters, who were in the car when she was shot, are working with investigators to come up with a composite sketch of the suspect they hope to release to the public.
Meanwhile, social justice activist and journalist Shaun King announced on Twitter Thursday morning that the reward for information leading to an arrest of Jazmine's killer has been raised from $50,000 to $75,000.
"We will not stop until we find this man and bring him to justice," tweeted King, a writer-in-residence at Harvard Law School's Fair Punishment Project.
The case has also prompted celebrities to get involved in the hunt for the killer.
"Find him. This evil monster," actress Gabrielle Union tweeted.
Actress Olivia Wilde also took to Twitter to bring attention to the manhunt, writing, "Please help find this murderer if you can."
Meanwhile, Jazmine's family announced that a funeral and balloon release for the little girl will be held on Tuesday at noon at the Green House International Church in Houston.
Local activists are also planning to hold a community rally at noon on Saturday outside a Walmart close to where Jazmine was shot.