Suspect released, another avoids arrest in shooting of Jeff Johnson
Police say at least some of their case against three young men in the shooting death of 20-year-old Mountain View resident Jeff Johnson is falling apart due to lack of evidence.
Although their first suspect to be arrested, 19-year-old Nathan Talarico, remains in jail, the second suspect, 19-year-old Jose Romero, has been released, according to police spokesperson Liz Wylie. A third suspect is known to police, however he is not being arrested due to lack of evidence in the case.
According to an affidavit filed by FBI agent Mark Dixon, Johnson was murdered on Feb. 7 during a marijuana deal in the parking lot of the Happi House restaurant at Ehrhorn Avenue and El Camino Real. The FBI agent, citing a witness who was with Johnson, reported that the murderer was one of three men who arrived to take part in the deal. Also taking part were another group of three young men in a separate car, and Johnson and a passenger riding in Johnson's white Ford Explorer.
According to the affidavit, the three suspects were acting strangely, and one claimed to be "coked up." As Johnson and his passenger, becoming nervous, tried to flee the scene, one of the three suspects shot him in the chest, the affidavit says. Johnson drove away down El Camino Real, but crashed soon after. He was pronounced dead at El Camino Hospital.
Police say the three suspects then got in their car and chased the other party of three young men, resulting in a violent car chase and shootout on city streets and Highway 85. During this encounter, one of the passengers in the fleeing vehicle was shot in the leg, police said.
The investigation seemed to move quickly at first, with the first suspect, Talarico, apprehended while getting off a bus in Mobile, Ala. thanks some investigative help from the FBI. The second suspect, Romero, was later apprehended as he exited the Jack in the Box on El Camino Real near Ehrhorn Avenue — only a few yards from where the Feb. 7 shooting took place.
Police are still actively investigating the murder. Anyone with information is urged to call (650) 903-6344.