An active-duty U.S. Marine has been arrested in the shooting death of a Texas college student who was driving her friends home from a New Year’s Eve party when a man in an SUV opened fire on their car.
Witnesses said Johnson, of Fort Worth, was driving the SUV and was seen holding a handgun, WFAA reports.
Sara Mutschlechner, also 20, was a student at the University of North Texas. She was the designated driver for her friends, who had been at a party just before the shooting.
The arrest warrant charges Johnson with first-degree murder. The investigation is still ongoing, police said.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Men Told Mutschlechner & Her Friends They Wanted to ‘F**k Them’ & Were Turned Down, Police SayMutschlechner was in her car with three of her friends, two men and a woman, after they had left a large party at a home on Cristoforo Drive in Denton, police said in the arrest warrant affidavit. Mutschlechner’s friends said there were “multiple musicians/rappers in attendance.”
Her friends said they stayed at the party for about 45 minutes and left at about 2 a.m.
As they were driving away from the party, an SUV pulled up next to them, the victim’s friends told police. The men inside the vehicle began to talk to Mutschlechner’s friend, Cori, asking where they were going and “making lewd comments about the two females in the vehicle, saying they wanted to ‘f**k them’,” police said.
According to the affidavit, Cori told them he “didn’t appreciate their comments” and one of the men in the back of the SUV said he would “beat his ass.” The driver then said, “I’ll shoot your ass” and showed a handgun, Cori said.
They continued driving and two shots were then fired at the car, police said.
Mutschlechner was shot in the head and crashed the car into another vehicle and an electrical pole. The SUV drove off, police said. Mutschlechner and one of her friends, who suffered minor injuries, were taken to the hospital.
She was found on the ground outside of her car when police arrived. She was rushed to the hospital, and was on life support until Friday night.
According to the arrest warrant affidavit, surveillance video showed the two vehicles driving next to each other at 2:06 a.m. A gas station clerk told police he was outside when the shooting happened and heard two shots before the SUV sped away and Mutschlechner’s car crashed.
2. Johnson Was With the Rap Group Who Played at the Party, Police SayMutschlechner’s friends say they recognized two of the men from the party they had left. They said one of the men looked “very young” and had braces. The other was wearing a Chicago Cubs baseball hat they recognized. Both were in the backseat of the SUV.
Police said they identified the musicians who performed at the party and other attendees through social media, some matching the description given by the witnesses. According to the arrest warrant affidavit, the men in the backseat was part of the music group that performed at the party, the Daytona Boyz.
Police said they found photos of the Daytona Boyz members, Tay-K and PimpyZ, with Santana Sage, later identified as Eric Jamal Johnson. The photos and videos showed them performing at the party and in the SUV. Johnson was wearing a red sweatshirt with the words “F**k Everybody” on it, police said.
Videos from the party show the Daytona Boyz performing, police said. This video appears to be a recap of the party:
Detectives showed Mutschlechner’s friends photos of the three men, and they identified them as being in the car. One of the friends said he remembered seeing the “F**k Everybody” shirt.
3. He Joined the Marines in 2013 & Is Based in ArizonaJohnson was arrested by U.S. Marshals on Monday at the Marine Corps Air Station in Yuma, Arizona, where he serves with the Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron-1, the Marine Corps said. He joined the Marines in 2013.
He has been held in Arizona and faces extradition to Texas.
In addition to serving as a U.S. Marine corporal, Johnson is a rapper, using his name Santana Sage.
He released a song called La’ Saint last month:
The identities of the other two rappers police say were in the car, Tay-K and PimpyZ, haven’t been made public. It’s not yet known if they will also be facing charges.
4. Johnson’s Friend Told a North Texas Student the Victim ‘Was at the Wrong Place Wrong Time’
Denton Police confirmed that detectives are investigating a Twitter message sent to a University of North Texas student after Johnson was arrested.
The student posted a screenshot of the message, which says “Yo friend was at the wrong place wrong time ya boi that was driving was talking shit.” Johnson’s friend, who had earlier sent public messages to the student about the arrest, said Johnson was “already heated” and had a beat someone up earlier in the night.
5. Mutschlechner Was a Movie Lover & Was Studying FilmHundreds gathered for a candlelight vigil on the campus of the University of North Texas on New Year’s Day.
“There are so many people that knew her, that she touched their lives,” her father, Clay Mutschlechner told ABC News.
“She was friends with everyone,” her mother, Gloria Mutschlechner, said.
Mutschlechner, a junior, was a member of a sorority on campus.
“Each and every one of our lives at the Gamma Phi Chapter of ZTA has been touched by the spunky, selfless attitude of our beloved sister, Sara,” ZTA chapter president Jordan Roberts said in a Facebook post. “She is by far one of the most spirited, honest and fun-loving people I ever had the privilege to know. She will truly be missed.”
Mutschlechner was majoring in radio, television and film. On her LinkedIn page, she wrote about her love for movies:
Growing up I was entranced by the beauty of cinema and as an avid movie-goer I one day decided that this – this beautiful thing I so enjoyed watching – was what I wanted to dedicate my life to. The more I dive into the film industry the more I realize just how much I enjoy the process of film production and how I love the way a film can affect not just a single person, but society as a whole. I want to inspire change just as much as I want to inspire future filmmakers, like myself, to continue creating beautiful and original works of art.
Mutschlechner grew up in Martindale, Texas, and graduated from San Marcos High School.
She was an organ donor, her family said.