Albuquerque police arrest suspect accused of killing man at Coronado Park
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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Albuquerque police have arrested Joseph Garcia, who allegedly shot and killed a man at Coronado Park earlier this summer. A judge decided Tuesday that Garcia will stay behind bars ahead of his trial.
Garcia is facing murder and tampering with evidence charges, but police said he’s been causing problems at the park for a while – and reportedly called himself the “mayor of Coronado Park.”
“The case was actually a big priority for the last several weeks, you know, like, we joked about it, like, we got to get the mayor of Coronado Park into custody,” said Albuquerque Police Department Chief Harold Medina.
Garcia was arrested Monday. According to the criminal complaint, Garcia killed Andrew Aguilar, who was homeless, at the park in June. Garcia reportedly drove up on his moped and fired two shots at Aguilar.
The first shot missed, but the second hit Aguilar in the gut. APD said it was all caught on camera.
“We got video of our shooter actually arriving, walking through the park and shooting Mr. Aguilar as he sat down, resting against a tree,” said APD Deputy Cmdr. Kyle Hartsock.
APD said surveillance video also shows Garcia returning to the scene a few hours later to pick up the bullet casings. Despite that, detectives waited nearly two months for cell phone data before going after Garcia.
“The fact that we have to gather cell phone records and find the root of where individuals were, it takes us a lot more longer to get to the point where we’re able to make an arrest,” Medina said.
According to the criminal complaint, Garcia was part of a group that provided fentanyl to people living at the park, and tried to control who got to stay there.
“We believe that he was one of the major suppliers of narcotics, helping enable the narcotics industry to thrive inside the park,” Hartsock said.
Documents suggest Aguilar’s murder was retaliation.
“It looks like this individual, you know, self proclaimed himself and was kind of like running Coronado Park and keeping people – deciding who was there, who wasn’t there – and doing some other activities,” Medina said.
Albuquerque police would not confirm if this murder was the final straw that pushed the city to close Coronado Park, but officials did say it played a part.
“It was something that kind of pushed Coronado park into the forefront of violence and kind of making sure that we address this issue,” Medina said.
Just two weeks after Aguilar’s murder, Albuquerque police arrested three people during a drug bust connected to Coronado Park. APD said they are still looking into how those cases might be connected.