Police feel confident the Marine arrested in the murder of Sara Mutschlechner was in fact the lone shooter, according to the latest Denton Police Department press release.
Mutschlechner was a college student at the University of North Texas and the designated driver on New Year’s Eve when she was killed in a brief but deadly roadside quarrel with Marine Corporal Eric Jamal Johnson.
Surveillance video retrieved from several businesses near the shooting, social media and witness statements, led police to focus on Johnson as a suspect, according to a police affidavit.
Denton news confirms the occupants inside the vehicle with Johnson at the time of the shooting have been identified and are considered witnesses.
Earlier reports indicate both Johnson and Mutschlechner attended a private party in Denton, TX in the early hours on January 1st. The two crossed paths at a traffic light where Johnson flew into what is described as a fit of road rage, following a verbal confrontation and refused sexual innuendo.
A Denton Police spokesman told reporters, “It was an amicable conversation to begin with, but quickly went downhill and some derogatory statements were made toward the female occupants of that vehicle.”
“Some comments were made back towards him [Johnson], even a couple of threats were thrown. About that time, they were driving through the intersection … when several shots were fired”, the spokesman explained.
Johnson was driving a gray Honda Pilot when he allegedly shot Mutschlechner in the head, causing her to crash her car, and injuring one of her three passengers, a Zeta Tau Alpha sorority sister, as stated in the arrest affidavit.
Police reports state at this time there is no evidence of Johnson and Mutschlechner having crossed paths before the party, however, several passengers told police they recognized each other from the party.
Witnesses also placed two members of the rap group Daytona Boyz inside the SUV along with Mutschlechner, according to the affidavit released.
Johnson was arrested and taken into custody around 6:30 a.m. (CST) Tuesday as he was reporting for work, authorities say, after a warrant for his arrest was issued by the Denton Police Department.
U.S. Marshals took Johnson into custody in Yuma, some 1,100 miles away from where the incident took place, police spokesman Shane Kizer told the news in a press conference yesterday.
Johnson is assigned to Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One, as administration specialist, according to a Marine Corps press release. Military officials stated Johnson enlisted in 2013 and has never deployed.
Police are still asking for anyone with photos or video taken at the party or anyone who attended the party and has information about the case, to please come forward. Call investigator Eric Beckwith at 940-349-7974 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Johnson is currently being held in the Yuma County Jail. Johnson is facing extradition to Texas.
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