Family, friends left confused after man killed in Horn Lake road rage incident

HORN LAKE, Miss. — Friends of a man who was shot dead after allegedly attacking an off-duty officer in Horn Lake say the story is not adding up.

Tuesday night's deadly road rage shooting and stabbing is being investigated as an aggravated assault and homicide by the Horn Lake Police Department, police said Wednesday.

Police say an off-duty Memphis Police officer got out of his vehicle to go to a Redbox kiosk at a Walgreen's on Goodman Road. They say 28-year-old Athens Mahrt followed him there, got out and stabbed him in the neck, and then the other man fired back, killing Mahrt.

Capt. Joseph R Keene with the Horn Lake Police Department said Mahrt was shot in the chest. Though police are investigating this as a homicide and an aggravated assault, they also list the officer who was stabbed as a victim.

Mahrt's fiancee, Krystall Johnson, can’t shake the last few moments she spent with him.

“I had work at 11 p.m. So I went to bed. I fell asleep next to him. He was passed out too,” Johnson said

The next thing she knew, she woke up to officials at her Horn Lake home, telling her the news.

They say Mahrt, who was going to the bank, had a road rage incident with another man near the intersection of Hurt and Goodman Roads.

"He was provoked. Something had to have happened for that to escalate that quickly," Johnson said. "You could say the wrong thing in front of him and he’d start going off, but he wasn’t violent.”

Tamra Jones, Johnson's mother, said no one knows exactly what happened yet.

"Until that comes out, we have to keep an open mind," she said. "He wasn’t a bad guy. He loved hard.”

That’s why friends and family say it doesn’t add up; the 28-year-old was a loving father to his 10-year-old daughter, who lives in Illinois, where he’s from.

He and Johnson moved to Mississippi nearly three years ago.

A neighbor said Mahrt used to work for a teddy bear company.

"He got his daughter a giant teddy bear. That story stuck with me because it’s so sweet," she said.

Friends say Mahrt was set to start a new trucking job in West Memphis Wednesday.

Instead, family members are making plans to travel and hold his funeral. And his fiance will now never see the ring he was saving to buy this year.

"I said give me a Ring Pop, I don’t care. He said ‘I need an actual ring,'" she recalled.

Police didn't identify the off-duty Memphis police officer, but said he was released from the hospital Wednesday.

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