ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Alan Garcia had just picked up his two children from school when it happened. He was trying to get off a freeway, and another car forced him out of his lane.

Garcia gestured toward the other driver and swore at him. Then, authorities said, the seemingly trivial episode turned deadly. A man in the other car opened fire on Garcia’s pickup truck, hitting his 4-year-old daughter in the head and shocking New Mexico’s largest city.

The apparent road-rage slaying began with one vehicle cutting off another, police said Thursday, two days after the fatal confrontation.

Garcia told police he heard two gunshots. Then his 7-year-old son said, “She’s bleeding,” referring to his little sister.

The suspect, identified as Tony Torrez, continued to pursue Garcia’s truck and fired twice more, according to a criminal complaint released Thursday. Garcia pulled over and tried to give first aid to his dying little girl as a bystander called 911.

When help arrived, Lilly Garcia was lying on the tailgate of her father’s truck in the median, bleeding heavily.


Police said Torrez, who was arrested Wednesday, admitted firing on the family as they traveled on Interstate 40, Albuquerque’s main east-west freeway. He has been charged with murder, assault, child abuse and other crimes. He made a court appearance from jail via video as a judge reviewed the terms of his $650,000 cash-only bond.

“This is possibly one of the most wanton and atrocious acts in the history of this city,” Judge Chris Schultz said.

According to the complaint, police received an anonymous tip from a caller who alleged that the 32-year-old had admitted shooting the child after Garcia tried to run him off the road.

“The two drivers exchanged words when Torrez pulled out a gun” and fired, the statement continued. “Lilly was hit at least once in the head.”

Todd Farkas, a public defender assigned to the case, declined to comment but said he planned to release a statement on Friday.

The little girl’s grandfather said the attack left the family deep in mourning.


“They really have to do something about this. It’s a problem,” Jose Garcia said Thursday, referring to gun violence.

He spoke to The Associated Press in Spanish as he stood outside the family home, which is just south of the highway where the shooting occurred, in a newly developed area of west Albuquerque.

After the shooting, a man alerted a dispatcher to a truck stopped on an I-40 median with “an adult holding an unresponsive child,” according to a roughly minute-long call released by police.

Two nurses showed up and tried to save the girl’s life before an ambulance rushed her to the hospital, where she died, Albuquerque Police Chief Gorden Eden said.

Authorities quickly began pressing the public for tips, offering $25,000 for information leading to the arrest of the shooter, who was driving a newer-model maroon or dark red Toyota Corolla or Camry with a spoiler on the trunk and dark tinted windows. The car also had a University of New Mexico license plate.

The young girl’s death spawned an outpouring of sympathy nationwide. A GoFundMe account for funeral services and other expenses has received more than $64,000 since being created Tuesday. The hashtag #JusticeForLilly began showing up on social media.


Torrez has been tied to violent crimes in New Mexico dating back a decade, but all of those cases were dropped.

The only crime for which he’s been prosecuted was a misdemeanor speeding violation. He pleaded guilty to going 16 to 20 mph over the speed limit in April 2013, according to court records.

Around that time, charges including abandonment or abuse of a child and aggravated battery of a household member were dismissed after the victim died. Prosecutors also were not able to proceed with 2006 domestic violence charges.

Lindi Walsh worked with Lilly’s mother, Veronica Garcia, at a drugstore five years ago and keeps in touch with her through Facebook. She recalled how much her friend wanted a second child. In the weeks following Lilly’s birth, the new mom often posted pictures with the infant.

“You could see through Facebook how radiant, how thrilled she was to have a baby girl,” Walsh said. “One thing I know is Veronica is a very affectionate and loving person. Her kids are her world, no doubt.”

At a news conference late Wednesday, the police chief released details of Torrez’s arrest and information about an unrelated shooting that evening that left an officer critically wounded. A man was later arrested in that case.

“For me, this is a terrible day,” Eden said.

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