SAN MARCOS, Texas (KXAN) — A 20-year-old was shot and killed at The Retreat, an apartment complex focused on student housing, during an apparent robbery in San Marcos early Sunday morning, Dec. 6, according to police. San Marcos police says the shooting happened around 3:30 a.m.
Police say Justin Gage was visiting a friend at The Retreat ,in the 500 block of Craddock Ave., when three men came into the apartment unit and threatened them. Investigators say one suspect pulled out a pistol and threatened the two. Gage was shot twice, in the torso and upper arm, during a struggle.
San Marcos Police say the three suspects ran and Gage and the other victim ran after them. Gage stopped once he realized he had been shot and collapsed in the parking lot complex. He was transported to the hospital and underwent surgery, but died later that day.
“He was really smart, he always made better grades than me in our mass communications class,” said a Texas State student who lives at The Retreat and was in the same class with Gage. She asked KXAN News not to release her identity because she’s concerned for her safety.
The woman said Gage was known for taking grades seriously and playing basketball in his spare time.
“I’ve highly considered kind of moving, it really freaks me out, last night we were so scared going to sleep,” explained the student who said her roommates heard the gunshots “One of my roommates mom came down here and hung out with us for a while and made us feel better but, it was scary going to sleep. I might stay at a friend’s house in a different neighborhood for a couple nights just in case.”
Authorities said they don’t believe this case was random.
“There’s a certain level of danger to the people in the community until we can figure out exactly who these people are,” said San Marcos Police Chief Chase Stapp. “But again we strongly believe robbery and drugs were the motive here, so if you’re not selling drugs, then you’re probably not a target for these folks.”
KXAN News asked Sapp if investigators believe someone was selling drugs.
“That’s part of the investigation, I’m not going to go that far to say that just yet, but that’s part of the investigation we’re looking into,” said Sapp.
Police are still searching for the three suspects involved. In addition to the $1,000 reward being offered by Hays County Crime Stoppers, on Feb. 1, Gage’s family announced an additional $3,000 reward for information leading to arrests or solving of the case.
San Marcos Police description of three suspects
- Black male 5’8″-5’10” with a dark complexion wearing a white mask and gray hoodie
- Black male 5’8″-5’10” dark complexion wearing a black mask and red hoodie
- Black male 5’8″-5’10” dark complexion wearing black mask
The chief said last month three men wearing ski masks robbed somebody else at The Retreat.
“A similar incident where people barged into the apartment, we believe drugs were involved it appears as though robbery was a motive,” said Sapp about the prior incident he believes is possibly related. “They went specifically to one bedroom and there was a scuffle there , we don’t know what exactly was taken but again, we think robbery was a motive.”
“There have been numerous calls to that complex, but there have been numerous calls to all apartment complexes in SM for various reasons,” said Sapp.
According to The Retreat website, the apartment complex is an American Campus Communities owned property, which provides student housing. The website also indicates the apartment complex is an official student housing partner of Texas State Athletics.
Some residents complained that safety has been a concern at The Retreat. A spokesperson for the company told KXAN that management notified residents today.
The company said it has a courtesy officer and added another patrol officer. The owners also said they are working with police to address the increase in crime in the area. They attribute some of the calls to police to noise complaints.
A spokesperson for Texas State University says Gage was a student and records show he was a sophomore.