Mr. Clarke, a conservative commentator who is black, wrote: “They blamed this on a white guy? Seriously? I could have told you it wasn’t a white guy who did this. Now that it’s Black On Black crime, let’s see if community outrage will maintain its intensity now that there is no racial component.”
Supporters of the family and residents of the area where the shooting occurred strongly disagreed, saying the death of an innocent child was what was drawing the African-American community together.
“We have to protect the children, to let them know that they are safe, and that they can go to school, that they can ride in a car,” Brenda Bingham, a former school counselor who lives near the shooting scene, said on Sunday.
Mr. King, the activist, said he did not get involved in the case because he thought the shooter was white. He said he has five children, including a 6-year-old daughter, and that “I internalized the pain of the family and tried to search as if it were my own child who was killed.”
Mr. King said he got an email on Thursday with the subject line “tip” and a request from the writer to remain anonymous. “The person said, I know who the shooter is, and it’s not at all who you all are looking for,” said Mr. King, who forwarded the tip to Sheriff Gonzalez.
Research has shown that the accuracy of eyewitness accounts can be undercut by stress and by conditions at the time of a crime. “Eyewitness testimony is the least reliable evidence you can have,” said Lori Brown, a criminologist at Meredith College. People generally try to understand how a traumatic event could have happened by using what they already know about the world, Ms. Brown said, and “unfortunately, we fill in the gaps.”
Jazmine’s mother, LaPorsha Washington, who was injured in the shooting, told CNN before the arrest that she did not see the man in the police sketch, but that her teenage daughter had.
“I don’t know if it was some kind of violent hatred, if it was a hate crime, or what it was,” Ms. Washington told CNN. “But you can plainly see through my windows. I have no tint on my windows or anything, so you can see that it was a mother, a black mother, with four beautiful children, girls, in this car.”