Albuquerque road-rage shooting: How did a lane dispute go so wrong?

A 4-year-old girl was killed in the shooting, which police say began with a trivial road-rage episode that turned deadly.

Russell Contreras/AP
Cars race along a busy section of Interstate 40 in Albuquerque, N.M., Wednesday, where police say a 4-year-old girl was shot during an apparent road-rage argument following a dispute of a lane change.

By the time help arrived, Lilly Garcia was lying on the tailgate of her father's pickup truck, bleeding heavily from a gunshot wound to her head.

And to think that it all started with a seemingly trivial road rage episode.

Alan Garcia, Lilly’s father, had just picked up her and her brother from school in Albuquerque on Tuesday when a car forced him out of his lane on the freeway.

Annoyed to have missed his exit, Mr. Garcia gestured and swore at the other driver. Then the confrontation turned deadly. A man in the other car opened fire on Garcia's truck, hitting 4-year-old Lilly in the head.

Two nurses tried to save the girl's life before an ambulance rushed her to a hospital, Albuquerque Police Chief Gorden Eden said. But they were too late. Lilly died soon afterward in the hospital.

On Wednesday, police arrested Tony Torrez, who reportedly admitted to firing on the family on Interstate 40. He has been charged with murder, assault, child abuse, and other crimes. Judge Chris Schultz placed his cash-only bond at $650,000.

"This is possibly one of the most wanton and atrocious acts in the history of this city," the judge said.

An anonymous caller told police that Mr. Torrez had acknowledged shooting the child after he said Garcia tried to run him off the road, according to the criminal complaint.

"The two drivers exchanged words when Torrez pulled out a gun" and fired, the complaint said. "Lilly was hit at least once in the head."

Jonell Tafoya, who witnessed the confrontation, told the Associated Press that the girl's father should not have been driving so dangerously. Even so, she said, nothing justifies pulling out a gun.

Officer Simon Drobik told the AP that the best way to deal with road rage is to avoid engaging with a problem driver, write down the license plate number of the other vehicle, and call police.

"It takes two people," Officer Drobik said of road rage. "You have to let it go."

This report includes material from the Associated Press.

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