Family hit twice by gun violence remembers legacy of late Army drill sergeant

Jessica Mitchell’s goal was to ultimately work in the United States Army Criminal Investigation Division

A Topeka, Kansas, family is demanding justice after their loved one, U.S. Army Drill Sgt. Jessica Mitchell, was gunned down early New Year’s Day.

SAN ANTONIO – A Topeka, Kansas, family is demanding justice after their loved one, U.S. Army Drill Sgt. Jessica Mitchell, was gunned down early New Year’s Day.

The family said Jessica Mitchell was beyond loved by those who knew her.

“Jessica was a spontaneous person,” said Ashley Mitchell, her sister. “She was very bubbly. She wore her heart on her ... in anything she did. She was also very stubborn. Once her mind was set on something, it was set and there was no changing it.”

That was especially true when Jessica Mitchell decided to serve her country 12 years ago.

“She is shy at first but very positive,” said Mayo Mitchell, Jessica’s father, also an Army veteran. “She knew what she wanted in life.”

“It was shocking when she first told me she wanted to be a fitness model and then Oct. 20, after she turned 18, she gave me a call and said, ‘Hey, dad, I joined the Army.’ I said, ‘What?’ I have served in the Army for 35 years, so I was wondering why she didn’t ask me anything. I would have told her to join the Air Force,” he continued with a smile. “I guess she wanted to follow behind me and her other grandfather who was also in the Army.”

Jessica Mitchell started off as a dental technician and worked her way up to a drill sergeant. Her family said her biggest accomplishment was becoming a mother. Sadly, she leaves behind her 10-year-old son.

“She was a wonderful mother,” Ashley Mitchell said. “She is still a wonderful mother. All of the memories her son will have are there. When you look at him, you can see her. In his smile and facial expressions, she is there. To see how happy her son is, she did an excellent job with him. Everything she did, she did for him, and she loved him to infinity and beyond.”

Jessica Mitchell’s family said her ultimate goal was to work with the Criminal Investigation Division, but sadly, that dream was cut short after she left a New Year’s Eve celebration.

“She was celebrating with her friends,” Ashley Mitchell said. “She loved social media, so she was on Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook and all of that showing her having a jolly good time. When that celebration was over, she was going home, and she got shot up through her door on the highway.”

The family said they are desperate for answers.

“‘Why?’ is the main question here. Why would someone take another person’s life who had so much going for them? There are no witnesses, but yet, someone had to see something. It happened on the highway. Whoever called it in? The question is ‘Was it a passerby or did the killer call it in because they were feeling some kind of way? Human life is not materialistic,” Ashley Mitchell said. “You can’t just go out and replace it with the same thing. No, my sister is gone. And for someone to be able to do a heinous act of crime like that, it is just God awful.”

This is not the first time the family has lost a family member abruptly to gun violence. They say they lost their loved one, Justice Mitchell, at age 18 three and a half years ago.

“It was hard when my son was killed. When you take a life, it disrupts everybody,” Mayo Mitchell said. “The family, the friends, the relatives, and extended families. I have been through this twice. The hardest thing is when their lives are being taken because of violent crimes. What people need to understand is that it is not the weapons that kill people. It is the people who have the weapons. It needs to stop.”

Mayo Mitchell said he has been staying in communication with military officials helping out on the case. He said that, through his own investigation, he learned a fact that he hopes will be a good lead for San Antonio police.

“I learned that Jessica told her niece that she was being stalked by someone online that she had to block,” Mayo Mitchell said. “I have reported that to police, so I hope they will give me some sort of update as soon as possible. This is just senseless. I am a strong person. I can understand if she was injured in combat and was taken away from us, but she didn’t. Someone was selfish and didn’t care, but I do care, and when they get caught, I will be there for the trial just like I was for my son. I want justice and I demand justice.”

The family has a scholarship fund set up in honor of their son and have plans to have another scholarship set in honor of Jessica Mitchell.

They had this to say for the suspect still at large:

“Thou shall not kill,” Mayo Mitchell said. “That is what comes to my mind. I hope they see this and read this and have nightmares about what they have done.”

“You know what you did when you pulled that trigger and gunned down an unarmed, innocent person,” Ashley Mitchell said. “For what reason? We don’t know why, but you are going to come clean eventually and my sister will get her justice!”

San Antonio police are still searching for the person responsible for the shooting. They say the suspect’s vehicle is possibly red in color and should have damage to the passenger side.

If you have any information, you are asked to call the Homicide Unit at (210)207-7635.

About the Authors:

Japhanie Gray joined 10 News as an anchor in March 2022.

Joe Arredondo is a photojournalist at KSAT 12.