Police say a man has confessed to fatally shooting a 4-year-old girl during a road rage incident Tuesday afternoon in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Tony Torrez, 32, was arrested Wednesday and held on several charges, including murder, Albuquerque Police said in a press release. Police say he told detectives he was responsible for the shooting.
Police had pleaded with the public for information about the shooting, which Chief Gorden Eden called a “complete disrespect of human life.”
The victim, Lilly Garcia, was shot in the head while riding in her family’s pickup truck along with her father, mother and 7-year-old brother. Her other family members were not injured. Lilly was rushed to the hospital and pronounced dead there.
“We are grateful to everyone who helped us ensure justice for little Lilly,” police said.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. An Anonymous Caller Tipped Police Off to the Alleged Shooter’s Identity
Police said an anonymous caller tipped them off to Tony Torrez’s name.
“An anonymous caller reported they knew who had shot Lilly Garcia,” police said in a press release Wednesday night. “The caller provided detectives the suspect’s name. With that information and multiple tips from the community, detectives were able to find the suspect. They tracked him to the area of Central and Sunset where he was detained for questioning without incident. This evening Torrez confessed to investigators he was responsible for the murder.
Torrez was held on $650,000 bail. In addition to murder, he was charged with 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, police said.
A reward had been offered for information leading to an arrest in the case, but police did not say if anyone will be eligible to collect it.
“Everyone that was involved is breathing just a little bit better with a sigh of relief, because this is appearing to wrap up the way we were hoping it would,” Tanner Tixier, a police spokesman, told the Albuquerque Journal.
2. Torrez Is Accused of Opening Fire on the Garcia Family’s Truck While Driving
Police said on October 20, Torrez and the Garcias were driving on Interstate 40 when the road rage incident occurred.
Lilly’s father, Alan, told police he had just picked up his daughter and 7-year-old son from school. They were trying to exit the freeway when a red Toyota Camry or Corolla “cut across traffic forcing him out of his lane,” police said. “The two drivers exchanged words when Torrez pulled out a gun and shot at the red truck driven by Lilly’s father. Lilly was hit at least once in the head.”
The shooting happened at about 3 p.m. An off-duty deputy sheriff stopped to help the family and passersby called 911. Lilly was rushed to the University of New Mexico Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
3. He Has a Lengthy Arrest Record
Torrez has a lengthy arrest record, but, according to KOB-TV, all the charges against him were eventually dropped or otherwise dismissed, except for a speeding ticket.
Online court records show he had a pending charge for failure to respond to a parking citation.
4. Lilly Turned 4 in September & Recently Started Pre-K
Lilly’s mother, Veronica, told the Albuquerque Journal Lilly turned 4 in September and had just started pre-school.
“She had a beautiful smile, big brown eyes,” Veronica Garcia told the newspaper. “She loved Rainbow Dash, Power Rangers, Minnie mouse.”
Her father, Alan, said in a Facebook post:
I’m not sure what anyone can do for me at the moment. If your heart is good and your intentions are genuine any and all help would be appreciated. I know Lily would’ve wanted that all of you that know her no she was the light of my life she had away about her it was too mature for her age she was far more wiser than I will ever be she had such a big heart for everybody she definitely changed my world my little girl showed me how to truly love regardless of what people thought about me peace and love peace and love and everybody peace and love. My little baby would sing this all the time.
5. Supporters Are Raising Money to Help Lilly’s Family Pay for Her Funeral
A GoFundMe account has been started to help raise money for Lilly Garcia’s funeral.
Her mother said in a message posted to the page by her cousin:
Most of you know my precious Lilly was taken from us today. I ask all of you is to please share the news stories and if anyone has information on what happen today, please contact APD. I need to catch the individual who took my baby from me, her Dad and her brother. I beg you, please please please share. Thank you to everyone who has reached out to me and Alan Garcia. Thank you for all your prayers. We both appreciate it, thank you…..Roni
Her cousin, Patty Romero, who started the page, added, “Your help, comfort and compassion during this most difficult time is greatly appreciated, please keep them all in your prayers.”