Marine arrested in Texas student’s shooting death – USA TODAY
DENTON, Texas â A Marine stationed in Arizona was arrested Tuesday in connection with the New Year’s Day murder of a University of North Texas student, authorities say.
Cpl. Eric Jamal Johnson, 20, was taken into custody in Yuma, Ariz., by U.S. marshals on Tuesday morning after a warrant for his arrest was issued by Police in Denton, north of Dallas. Johnson was stationed at the Marine Corps Air Station in Yuma, according to Marine Corps Public Affairs Officer Capt. Justin Smith.
Sara Mutschlechner, 20, a student at North Texas, was shot in the head while driving in Denton after a New Yearâs Eve party. She was the designated driver for a group of sorority sisters.
According to Denton police Officer Shane Kizer, the suspect’s vehicle, a silver Honda Pilot, pulled up next to Mutschlechner’s vehicle at around 2 a.m. on New Year’s Day. Two of the occupants of the Honda had also attended the party that Mutschlechner and her friends had attended, but authorities said they were not aware of any interaction between the two groups at the party.
Kizer said some of the occupants of the suspect’s vehicle began talking with the occupants of Mutschlechner’s vehicle and making derogatory comments toward the women. That led to heated words being exchanged between the groups before someone in the suspect’s SUV fired two shots at the other vehicle.
Mutschlechner was struck in the head by one of the shots and lost control of her vehicle, eventually crashing into an electric pole. She was later pronounced dead at a hospital.
Police stopped short of identifying Johnson as the shooter in a news conference Tuesday, but they said Johnson was seen with a handgun in the suspect vehicle prior to the shooting.
Kizer said authorities began pursuing Johnson based on witness interviews and social media information.
Kizer has said Mutschlechner was from Martindale, about 40 miles south of Austin.
Authorities say Johnson has family ties to the North Texas area. He has been in the Marines since August 2013.
Contributing: The Associated Press