NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal is opening his heart and his wallet to help pay for the funeral of Jazmine Barnes, a 7-year-old girl killed in a drive-by shooting in Houston on December 30. O’Neal teamed up with a Houston police officer named Kenneth Miles to alleviate the costs associated with the funeral for the grieving family, according to CNN.
Jazmine Barnes was shot in the head around 7 a.m. on December 30 while traveling on a road in Houston with her mother to make a run to a convenience store. Her mother, LaPorsha Washington, was struck in the arm by a bullet. Washington’s three other daughters, who were also in the car, were unharmed.
At the time of the shooting, authorities were looking for a white man in his 30s or 40s in a red pick-up truck based on descriptions from the family. Per Vox, some worried that the shooting was racially motivated.
Since then, authorities determined that the suspect is likely a 20-year-old African-American man named Eric Black Jr. Police are also investigating a second suspect named Larry Woodruffe. Police call the situation “likely a case of mistaken identity.”
“This just went down very quickly when the gunfire erupted,” Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said. “You’re talking about small children. They witnessed something very traumatic. And it’s very likely that the last thing they did see was… indeed that red truck and that driver that was in that truck, and that’s what they remembered last.”
The case has garnered national attention. Texans wide receiver DeAndrew Hopkins dedicated a game last week to the 7-year-old, saying that he saw his own daughter in the face of Barnes. ESPN said that Hopkins would donate $29,000 to go toward the funeral.
“I’m not trying to make it out about me or anything like that. It’s the least I could do,” he said.
New York activist Shaun King led a “Justice for Jazmine” drive to raise $100,000 in reward money to locate and convict the killer, and local officer Kenneth Miles also pledged to help pay for the costs of the funeral.
O’Neal, who is friends with Miles, also wanted to help out.
“I just wanted to keep the pain away, trying to raise money and pay for the funeral because funerals can be quite expensive,” he said.
The pair dropped a cashier’s check off last week.
@houstonpolice Officer Kenneth Miles and @SHAQ join forces to cover funeral expenses for 7 year old #JazmineBarnes, the girl shot and killed while riding in a car with her mother and sisters. @kprc2 pic.twitter.com/awv7gtlBQ8
— Brandon Walker (@KPRC2Brandon) January 3, 2019
Gonzalez told reporters that the suspect says he mistook Washington’s vehicle for another and claimed that his passenger fired into the car. Black is expected to be charged today after being arrested on Saturday during a traffic stop.