Mother of Lilly Garcia speaks out on latest deadly road rage shooting
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Crime tape, flashing lights, and police surrounded Avenida Cesar Chavez and University Boulevard Wednesday night following a road rage incident.
“At first my heart just dropped hearing about of course another shooting, I think unfortunately our community is desensitized, like, ‘Oh there was another shooting,’ but when it comes to a child you know an 11-year-old, my heart just dropped,” said Veronica Rael-Garcia.
It was a devastating act of gun violence that is all too familiar to Rael-Garcia, whose 4-year-old daughter Lilly Garcia died in 2015 after a road rage shooting on I-40.
“My first thought was ‘Oh my god what about his mom and dad?’ it brings up all the emotions that we went through asking why you know what was the reason for someone feeling they needed to shoot multiple times into a vehicle,” she said.
A flood of emotions came back to Rael-Garcia as she reflected on the day her daughter was taken from her and understanding the deep pain ahead for the family of the 11-year-old boy.
“Now this family is forever changed, they will never be the same. They will never be the same and that is heartbreaking because now they are going to have to try and live a new normal is how I say it,” said Rael-Garcia.
A campaign was launched in Garcia’s honor. Community members passed out ‘Just Breathe’ bumper stickers with her photo on them.
“Lilly has been gone eight years and how many shootings have we had? How many road rage incidents have we had? As a mother, I just feel that she was too precious to lose and too precious to forget but there is still no change,” she said.
In Lilly’s case, police arrested Tony Torrez the day after the shooting. He faced a life sentence but took a deal for 16 years in prison.
While the investigation into Wednesday’s shooting is still in its early stages, APD has a message for whoever is responsible.
“To the ‘tough person’ who thought they were a tough person firing shots at a vehicle, well, you know, live with yourself, – you just killed an 11-year-old trying to show how tough you were. This is very disheartening, like I mentioned, and our detectives will do everything they can to find these individuals and bring them to justice,” said APD Chief Harold Medina.