Albuquerque police said late Wednesday that a suspect had confessed to a road rage shooting that killed a four-year-old girl on Interstate 40.
Authorities said Tony Torrez, 32, had been charged with murder, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, assault with the intent to commit a violent felony, shooting at or from a motor vehicle, child abuse, child abuse resulting in death and tampering with evidence. He was being held on $650,000 bail.
Police said Torrez had confessed to Tuesday’s shooting, which killed Lilly Garcia as she rode in a vehicle driven by her father Alan, who had just picked Lilly and her brother up from school.
Police said Alan Garcia was traveling westbound on Interstate 40 and was attempting to exit the freeway when Torrez’s vehicle cut across traffic and forced Garcia out of his lane. Investigators said Garcia and Torrez exchanged words before Torrez pulled out a gun and fired at Garcia’s truck.
Lilly Garcia was struck at least once in the head. She was rushed to a local hospital, but was later pronounced dead. Her father and brother were unhurt.
Albuquerque cops had spent much of the day in a “desperate” search for the shooter, offering roughly $25,000 for information that leading to an arrest. KOB-TV reported that detectives were led to Torrez by an anonymous tipster. The station reported that detectives set up surveillance near Torrez’s home and discovered that he matched a description of the shooter given by witnesses. The suspect was taken into custody after a traffic stop.
Police spokesman Tanner Tixier said that Torrez was driving a grayish-green Lexus sedan when he was arrested. However, the shooter was described as driving a maroon or dark red Toyota Corolla or Camry with a spoiler on the trunk and dark tinted windows. Tixier said officers believed the red car was at Torrez’s home and investigators would seek a search warrant for the property.
Late Wednesday afternoon, authorities released a 911 call from moments after the shooting. In the minute-long call, a man can be heard alerting an operator to a red pickup truck stopped in a median on Interstate 40 on Albuquerque’s west side and saying a man appears to be holding an unresponsive child.
Albuquerque Police Chief Gorden Eden described the search Wednesday by saying officers “have not stopped or slept,” the police chief said. “Every officer in law enforcement in New Mexico is currently looking for the vehicle I described.” Mayor Richard Berry said Wednesday that the slaying “cut to the core” of the community.
The shooting comes after a road-rage shooting last month in Albuquerque in which police say a man fired at another driver in self-defense. The Sept. 9 shooting that wounded 34-year-old Jacoby Johnson was being reviewed by the District Attorney’s Office. A month earlier, a driver used a camera to record another motorist brandishing a gun at him on I-25 in Albuquerque, resulting in felony charges for the suspect.