ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Late Wednesday night, Albuquerque Police announced 32-year-old Tony Torrez was arrested for killing 4-year-old Lilly Garcia during a road rage attack.
Police said Torrez has been charged with murder, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, assault with murder, the intent to commit a violent felony, shooting at or from a motor vehicle, child abuse, child abuse resulting in death and tampering in evidence.
The Albuquerque Police Department said Torrez was taken into custody around 3:45 Wednesday afternoon. Police stopped him on Central near Sunset. He was taken into custody without incident.
APD says an anonymous caller gave police the information that led them to Torrez. When Torrez was being questioned, police said he confessed to the murder. He is being held at MDC on a $650,000 cash-only bond.
The shooting happened Tuesday afternoon on I-40 westbound. Investigators said Alan Garcia picked up his children, his 4-year-old daughter and his 7-year-old son, from school Tuesday afternoon and got onto I-40 when he was forced out of his lane by another vehicle.
The two drivers exchanged words and according to police, that is when Torrez pulled out a gun and fired at Garcia’s truck. APD said Lilly Garcia was hit at least once in the head.
Officers said a Bernalillo County Sheriff’s deputy was first on scene, after he spotted a disabled vehicle and stopped to help. There, a frantic father said his 4-year-old daughter was shot during a road rage incident. In addition to the deputy who stopped, two nurses also stopped to render aid.
Police said 4-year-old Lilly was rushed to UNM Hospital, and later died from her injuries. People living near the family that is now grieving over Lilly’s death say they are devastated.
“It just has broken our hearts,” said Carmen Hernandez. “It’s just really, really sad. We’re still in shock about it.”
Hernandez said she recognized the neighbors’ truck on the news last night, but other neighbors just learned on Wednesday that the victim’s family lives just a few doors down from them.
“As a mom, my daughter’s three [years old], so I can’t even imagine something happening to my daughter,” said Amanda Zuelly. “It would break my heart. I would never be the same.”
Lilly’s father Alan Garcia posted on Facebook that she was “the light of [his] life.”
He wrote that “she had such a big heart for everybody… she changed his world.” His little girl showed him how to truly love, regardless of what people thought about him, he wrote.
Alan, who was driving the vehicle at the time of the shooting, also spoke to ABC News about his family’s heartbreak.
“She was so proud to tell people she just turned four,” Garcia said. “She just started school two days ago. She was very bright and very smart.”
“She is my world,” he said.
A neighbor, who said her grandson played with Lilly, remembered her always smiling.
“Real happy, real outgoing, really beautiful girl,” said Carmen Hernandez. “She’s just so full of energy and happy child.”
“It is just, when it involves kids it’s kind of… It hits home, especially when you have kids,” said Amanda Zuelly.
Mayor Berry issued the following statement about the incident:
“The Garcia family is in the thoughts and prayers of our community and our nation. The senseless murder of four year old Lilly Garcia has broken our hearts and cut to the core of our community,” said Mayor Berry. “Make no mistake; this act of violence will not go unanswered. The Albuquerque Police Department will work tirelessly with other law enforcement agencies to bring this criminal to justice.”
The death of Lilly Garcia has impacted the entire community. The family started a GoFundMe account Wednesday morning and in just hours it has raised tens of thousands of dollars with some anonymous donations coming in as high as $800 and $500.
People who want to help the family have also been calling KRQE News 13.
Ana Johanson, the owner of In Bloom Flowers wants make and donate a casket cover for Garcia’s funeral. She has a message for the parents.
“This is one mom to another,” Johanson said. “They shouldn’t give up on humanity completely. Not all of us are that evil. This is a time where we have to step up and prove to them that not all is lost.”
Garcia’s death has also affected the medical team who tried desperately to save her life. That included some medical students who were passing by and stopped to help.
“I thought about it all this morning,” Michael Wentzel said. “Working in the profession that we do, we’re used to seeing death, but it’s always hard when it’s a little girl.”
Wentzel said the UNM School of Medicine wants to make a donation. Students are holding a Halloween dance this Saturday and all the money will go back to the family.
If you wish to donate, be aware that there are a few fake GoFundMe accounts that have been created using this tragedy. Here is a link to the GoFundMe account created by the girl’s family.