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Help ID This Truck Sought in the Murder of a 7-Year-Old Houston Girl (Updated)

Illustration for article titled Help ID This Truck Sought in the Murder of a 7-Year-Old Houston Girl (Updated)
Photo: Harris County Sheriff’s Office

A grainy surveillance photo of a red pickup truck is key to finding a suspect who police say opened fire on a family in the Houston area this weekend, killing a 7-year-old girl. Let’s see if we can help figure out what they’re even looking for. Updated: The truck is not believed to be involved in this shooting after all. 

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According to the Houston Chronicle and other news outlets, 7-year-old Jazmine Barnes was shot and killed near a Walmart in East Harris County on Sunday morning. Other members of her family were injured in the attack.

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Harris County Sheriff’s Department officials say the family was leaving the Walmart in their vehicle when a suspect in the red truck pulled up and opened fire. Barnes, a second-grader at Monahan Elementary School in east Houston, died in the attack and her mother was wounded.

The Chronicle reports sheriff’s officials don’t know the motive behind the attack, but they say it was apparently unprovoked. The suspect is white and Barnes’ family is black, leading to questions from community members as to whether the attack was racially motivated.

At present authorities have little to go off of, save for a surveillance photo from another nearby business that caught the red truck speeding along the feeder road shortly after the attack, the Chronicle reports. Based on that alone, authorities are having a difficult time even ID-ing the truck’s make and model, to say nothing of the plates.

The same image brightened up a bit.
The same image brightened up a bit.
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From the newspaper, quoting Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez:

Authorities acknowledged that tracking down a killer on the vague description of a pickup truck will be a challenge in a sprawling metropolis teeming with similar vehicles.

“Yes, we know we’re in Texas. Yes, we know we have a lot of pickup trucks out there,” Gonzalez said. “But when you put the pieces together, consider that we’re looking for a bearded man, possibly in his 40s, driving a red pickup truck. This could be your neighbor. This could be your co-worker.”

He appealed for the public’s help, especially those with security cameras attached to their homes and businesses, to look for any sign of the man in the red truck.

And to the killer, should he be listening, Gonzalez had sharp words.

“I would suggest that you do the right thing and turn yourself in. There’s no need for anyone else to get harmed,” he said.

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The suspect has been described as a bearded man in his 40s who was wearing a red hoodie at the time of the attack.

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We’ve got a history of helping with this sort of thing, but this is an especially tall order given the quality of the photo. Still, this killing is senseless and horrifying, and whoever is responsible must be found.

Anyone with information, or who can ID the truck, is asked to call 713-221-6000, 713-222-TIPS or contact @CrimeStopHOU. Feel free to drop any theories as to the truck’s make and model into the comments.

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Update Friday, Jan. 4: Sheriff’s officials have released the full surveillance video clip of the truck, but unfortunately it’s not much better than the still image.

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Additionally, a sketch of the suspect has been released as well:

Illustration for article titled Help ID This Truck Sought in the Murder of a 7-Year-Old Houston Girl (Updated)
Illustration: HCSO
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Update Sunday, Jan. 6: One suspect has been arrested, but it’s not the person in the red truck or in the sketch—that person may have just been a bystander fleeing the scene. See full update here.

Editor-in-Chief at Jalopnik. 2002 Toyota 4Runner.

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DISCUSSION

You know, this is a good thing. Catching a bad guy is always a good thing.

But there are several things wrong here.

The level of resources here aren’t much to work with. A single .jpg file with no explanation of how it differs from an original. Presumably this is a still taken from a video feed, which almost invariably means it has been altered via acquisition, or it is a 1 to 1 bitmap capture at it’s highest possible quality that has been degraded to a .jpg so it can be posted on the internet.

Each of these stories should be accompanied with a link to a resource that is available from the authority issuing a request for help, or an explanation of the state of the images available, how they were obtained, and how they were modified before posting to the site. If there is video, it should be here with the same resource or explanation.

It’s not apparent whether a request from law enforcement has been submitted to Gawker, or if this is a grassroots attempt to help law enforcement. I think either is fine, but we should know if we call the cops, that they’re going to understand words like Jalopnik, Gawker, or Patrick George.