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.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.