ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A 4-year-old girl was shot fatally during what police described as a “classic road rage incident” covering two miles of interstate in New Mexico.
Two vehicles were cutting each other off Tuesday afternoon on westbound Interstate 40, beginning near the Rio Grande in Albuquerque, said Officer Simon Drobik, a police spokesman.
A gunman in one car pulled up to the girl’s car and opened fire, Drobik said, citing information given by the girl’s father.
Killed was Lilly Garcia, said Mayor Richard Berry.
The father was driving a red pickup, and the mother and the girl’s 7-year-old brother also were inside, police said.
The gunman and his vehicle were still being sought, with a total reward of $11,000 offered, authorities said Wednesday. The mayor’s office is offering $10,000 and the police $1,000.
Officials expressed shock at the shooting.
“I have never seen it before,” police Chief Gorden Eden said of the shooting. “I’ve seen tragic loss of children in car crashes. To me this is one of those crimes which is unexplainable.”
“I just can’t express how sad it is to know that something as simple as going down the freeway and your child dies because of road rage,” Gov. Susana Martinez said, according to CNN affiliate KRQE.
Said Mayor Berry: “The Garcia family is in the thoughts and prayers of our community and our nation. The senseless murder of four year old Lilly Garcia has broken our hearts and cut to the core of our community.
“Make no mistake; this act of violence will not go unanswered,” Berry said in a statement.
The suspected shooter was driving a maroon or dark red, four-door Toyota sedan, possibly a Corolla or Camry from 2014 or 2015, police said Wednesday.
The suspect’s sedan was “sportier” with dark tinted windows and a spoiler on the trunk, and the car has a gray UNM plate with the Lobo logo on the left hand and may contain the digits “200.”
The suspect was described as a man in mid 20s to early 30s, with short dark hair, possibly in a fade haircut, and with a thin manicured goatee around his mouth, police said.
The suspect was wearing a black shirt with gold or yellow writing on it, and his race is white with a dark complexion, possibly Hispanic. The suspect has a thin face, soft jaw and average build, police said.
Police had to shut down momentarily that two-mile stretch of freeway to look for shell casings and other evidence, Drobik said. That portion of the freeway was reopened by Wednesday.
Police found no helpful evidence from a review of a camera footage taken by the New Mexico Department of Transportation, Drobik said.
“Again we are begging for the community’s help. This should have never happened. This is a complete disrespect for human life,” the chief said at a press conference. “We’re starting to see this throughout our nation, and this is something that should not be happening.”
Homicide detectives were scheduled to interview the girl’s family members, Drobik said.
A Bernalillo County sheriff’s deputy was passing by the family’s disabled red pickup and was the first on the scene, Drobik said.
An off-duty nurse from the University of New Mexico Hospital happened to be passing by and stopped to give aid, police said.
The girl was rushed to that hospital in an ambulance, escorted by police, Drobik said.
Detectives said the suspect probably fired off shots while driving, KRQE said.
No one else was injured in the shooting, police said.