HOUSTON - Seven-year-old Jazmine Barnes was laid to rest on Tuesday as a second man was charged in her murder.
On this day, young Jazmine was supposed to be headed back from Christmas break to Monahan Elementary School with her classmates. Instead, the second-grade student was being remembered at a north Houston church as loved ones try to determine how to say goodbye to such a young child.
"Anybody who can know of this tragedy and remain unchanged is in a dangerous place," Community of Faith Church Pastor Bishop James Dixon told the mourners during the eulogy.
Community of Faith was filled with Houston-area leaders, friends and family, and with hurt and tears as her tiny casket sat in the front of the church during the service.
"Words can’t even express the pain that I feel," said Jazmine's father Chris Cevilla to everyone in attendance. "Some people wonder, 'Why doesn’t he cry?' Because the anger I feel inside won’t let me."
Jazmine’s mother, who was shot in the arm when her daughter was killed, also spoke, reading a poem from her princess.
"I’m writing this from Heaven where I dwell with God above," read LaPorsha Washington as she choked back tears. "Where there are no more tears, pain or sadness, just eternal love."
Gospel great Brian Courtney Wilson led a special song, performing to a group of attendees that included the Harris County District Attorney, the Houston Fire Department chief, Houston City Council members, school board members and a host of others.
"As mayor of this city, I’ve stood too often for children whose lives have been cut short by unnecessary violence," Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner told the group.
"Jazmine’s spirit touched all of us who worked on this investigation," added Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez. "Her beautiful smile inspired us. In the case of a child, we mourn not only the life that was but also that life that may have been."
The second-grade student was shot to death on Dec. 30, 2018, while riding in the car with her mother and three sisters on the Beltway 8 feeder road near Wallisville Road. Detectives say 20-year-old Eric Black Jr. has confessed, saying he was driving and 24-year-old Larry Woodruffe fired gunshots toward the family’s car, mistakenly believing he was shooting toward some guys they had argued with at a nightclub. During Jazmine’s funeral, Woodruffe, like Black, was charged with capital murder.
"Rest in peace, sweet Jazmine, for justice has been done," said Sheriff Gonzalez. District Attorney Kim Ogg said she will decide later if she will seek the death penalty against Jazmine’s killer.
"The killing of our children will not be the norm," Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee told the attendees.
Near the end of the service, Mayor Turner declared, "I, Sylvester Turner, Mayor of the City of Houston, proudly proclaim this day as Jazmine Barnes Day in the City of Houston. To God be the glory."