12:57 p.m. WEDNESDAY, JAN 6: This just in from Denton police officer Daniel Kizer, the department’s spokesperson:
Denton police investigators have identified all the occupants who were in Eric Johnson’s vehicle at the time of the New Year’s morning shooting. They are still considered witnesses in this investigation at this time. Investigators feel confident that Eric Jamal Johnson was the lone shooter in the murder of Sara Mutschlechner. Eric remains in custody in Yuma, Arizona. Denton police investigators are in Yuma, as they continue to follow up on all leads in this investigation.
by BRAD ROLLINS
DENTON — Eric Jamal Johnson, the active-duty U.S. Marine charged in the murder of a San Marcos High School alumna, was among guests at a house party in Denton attended by the victim and her friends early New Year’s Day, court documents state.
The 20-year-old enlistee was arrested by federal marshals and military police on Tuesday as he reported for duty at the Marine Corps Air Station in Yuma, Ariz. where he served as an administrative assistant in the Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron-1.
Sara Mutschlechner, a 20-year-old University of North Texas junior who was acting as designated driver for her group, was fatally shot shortly after 2 a.m. Jan. 1 as she drove south on Elm Street alongside a sports-utility vehicle in the neighboring lane, court documents state. Incapacitated by the wound, Mutschlechner lost control of her car, struck another vehicle and then crashed into a utility pole. She died that evening at Denton Regional Medical Center.
Two passengers in Mutschlechner’s car told police they exchanged heated words with “at least five black men” in a dark-colored SUV moments earlier while stopped at a traffic light, court documents state.
“The occupants of the vehicle engag[ed] in conversation, asking where they were going and making lewd comments about the two females in the vehicle, saying they wanted to ‘fuck’ them,” Denton police Det. Eric P. Beckwith states in an affidavit used to obtain arrest warrants. A passenger in Mutschlechner’s vehicle “responded back to the males that he didn’t appreciate their comments and one of the males in the backseat told him he would, ‘Beat his ass.’”
“I’ll shoot your ass,” the SUV’s driver said as he flashed a black semi-automatic handgun, the witnesses told Beckwith.
A few blocks south, the SUV’s driver fired two shots out the opened driver’s side window of his moving vehicle and then sped off, court documents state.
Police used witness interviews and social media to identify the driver as Johnson, who moonlights as a rapper under the name “Santana Sage,” court documents state. Two performers at the house party — “Fuck PimpyZ” and“Tay-K” of the Daytona Boyz rap group — were backseat passengers in the SUV allegedly driven by Johnson, witnesses told Beckwith.
Visitation for Mutschlechner’s family and friends will be held 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 6 followed by a 6 p.m. service at Pennington Funeral Home, 323 N. Comanche St. in San Marcos. Services will be held at 2 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 7 at University Church of Christ, 115 Country Estates Drive in San Marcos.
A candlelight vigil organized by two of Mutschlechner’s former classmates will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday at San Marcos High School, 2601 E. McCarty Lane.
Footage of Eric Jamal Johnson being escorted into the Yuma (Ariz.) County Jail on Jan. 5 from television station KYMA, the NBC network affiliate.