Sara Mutschlechner made friends with everyone she met, her father, Clay, remembered.
“There are so many people that knew her, that she touched their lives. She never met a stranger,” he told ABC News days after his daughter’s shooting death New Year’s Eve.
The young college student and sorority sister, only 20-years-old, was killed in an apparent road rage-inspired shooting at 2 a.m. Friday. Friends said Sara was acting responsibly that night, forgoing drinking to be the designated driver and shepherding her friends safely home after New Year’s celebrations.
Now, those who knew her best are remembering Mutschlechner as a vibrant and caring young woman, describing her as selfless, spirited, and fun-loving.
“She lived with joy and laughed with grace and didn’t care what other people thought,” the president of her sorority Zeta Tau Alpha, Jordan Roberts, told CBS News. “She was happy, and we should all be a little more like that.”
Another friend, Chris Challiot, said Mutschlechner “always had a smile on her face, never said no to an adventure.”
On Saturday, mere hours after Sara was taken off life support, several hundred fellow students at the University of North Texas braved the cold to honor Mutschlechner with a candlelight vigil. Sara was an organ donor, WFAA reported.
— David Goins (@dgoins) January 3, 2016
— David Goins (@dgoins) January 3, 2016
— Chris Van Horne (@CVHReportsNBC5) January 2, 2016
“Each and every one of our lives… has been touched by the spunky, selfless attitude of our beloved sister, Sara,” Roberts told the station. “[Sara] 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.”
Now, police are now tasked with piecing together the final moments of Mutschlechner’s life to figure out what led to her tragic and sudden shooting death in the early hours of New Year’s Day.
That night, after leaving a New Year’s Eve party, an SUV pulled up alongside Mutschlechner’s car, words were exchanged with the people in the SUV, and two or three rounds were then fired into Sara’s car, ABC News recounted. Sara lost control of the vehicle, hit another car, and finally crashed into an electrical pole.
Officers who responded to the shooting found Sarah lying on the ground; she’d been shot in the head. Mutschlechner was rushed to the hospital and later died after being taken off life support.
So far, no one has been arrested in connection with the road rage shooting of Mutschlechner, but police have a handful of clues.
The vehicle that pulled up alongside Sara’s may have been a dark-colored Toyota or Lexus SUV, and the occupants are believed to be five to six African-American males. According to Fox4News, police have found security footage taken near the shooting, which reportedly shows the suspects’ vehicle.
Denton police just released this picture of 20-yr-old Sara Mutschlechner's car. She was shot while driving this a.m. pic.twitter.com/Vl7J1VRMbn
— Jason Allen (@CBS11JasonAllen) January 1, 2016
And it’s possible that Sara crossed paths with her killer earlier in the evening. The shooting, police theorize, may be connected to the New Year’s Eve party Sara and her friends attended along with 60 other people.
“It’s my understanding that they saw them, at least two occupants of the suspects’ vehicle at the party earlier, but it’s my understanding also that they did not know each other,” said police officer Shane Kizer. “We’re sure that a lot of people at the party would’ve recognized who was in that vehicle and maybe be able to tell us who they were. We’ve got a lot of people that we’re wanting to talk with at this time.”
Police are also looking into whether the shooting was preceded by an argument.
Mutschlechner described herself as an “avid movie-goer” and had majored in radio, television, and film with a minor in theater. Her goal was to make movies one day.
“I couldn’t go to sleep,” her mother, Gloria, said of that night. “All I could think about was her and this horrible thing that happened to her. She did not deserve this.”
“We’re all going to miss her,” Sara’s father, Clay, added. “Some people don’t get to have their kids 20 years. We have to be blessed with what we’ve had with our time spent.”
[Photo via YouTube]