Victim advocates react to arrest of suspects in deadly house party shooting
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – 16-year-old Gabriel Garcia was gunned down in August 2021 while out at a house party with his older brother. Albuquerque police say six guys are responsible for taking his life.
While one of them was in court Monday, the mother of another teen victim in a drive-by shooting continues the warning against house parties.
“They shoot into a house full of teenagers and people that they don’t know are in there, and those bullets don’t magically hit their target. My heart hurts for this family, they’ve already waited two years for an arrest, and that is the longest wait of your life when you’re a mother trying to find justice,” said Nicole Chavez, victim advocate.
Chavez is the mother of Jadon Chavez Silver – a teen who was shot and killed in 2015 says she can’t stress it enough.
“These teenagers need to remember, house parties are not safe. It’s not a safe place anymore,” said Chavez.
This comes after Albuquerque police filed charges against six people for the 2021 drive-by shooting death of Garcia.
On Monday, one of those six suspects appeared before a judge.
Police say Francisco Rodriguez, Santos Veronica, Dominic Baca, Elton Gastelum, Johnny Lopez, and Lawrence Ramirez-Casiquito are charged with an open count of murder.
Investigators say the suspects planned on shooting someone else at the house party. Instead, they shot and killed Garcia, who was at the party for maybe 10 minutes.
“I remind people all the time, Jaden was at that party for maybe eight minutes. This young 16 year old was at a party for maybe 10 minutes, and that’s all it takes,” Chavez said.
“If a party starts getting out of hand, and it gets on Snapchat, and you suddenly have hundreds of people showing up, those are the parties that you definitely need to leave. Those are the most dangerous parties,” said Miranda Viscoli, co-president of New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence.
Viscoli says in 2022 there was a 33% spike of young people that were shot and killed.
“The gun violence amongst our youth is going up. Usually it’s teens killing teens, or shooting at teens. And we’re in a crisis moment, we need to figure out what can we do to make this stop,” said Viscoli.
Viscoli says teens should follow their intuition if they feel something is going south.
“If you feel like you have to go to a party, make sure you leave before 12. Because in between 12 and 2, ask any of the UNM trauma surgeons, that’s when the bodies are coming in,” said Viscoli.
The state has filed to keep Rodriguez Santos Veronica in jail until their trial. Those hearings will happen at a later date.
As for the other suspects, Gastelum and Baca are in federal custody. Lopez is at the Juvenile Detention Center.
APD says Ramirez-Casiquito is not yet in custody and has a warrant out for his arrest.