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  • Writer's pictureABQ RAW

Tragic Killing of 11 year old in ABQ NOT a Road Rage incident, was a case of Mistaken ID

BY: ABQ RAW staff

POSTED: 09/21/2023 @ 9:45PM


APD homicide detectives arrested two men today for the shooting that killed 11-year-old Froylan Villegas and critically injured his cousin, Tatiana Villegas.

The suspects -- Jose Romero, 22, and Nathan Garley, 21 – are accused of shooting at least 14

rounds from a black Dodge Durango into a 2019 white Dodge truck, thinking they were shooting at another man they were targeting as a result of an ongoing rivalry. The intended victim had a similar truck to the Villegas family's truck.

The two suspects were caught in separate incidents across New Mexico. Romero was arrested in Albuquerque at an Allsups on September 21st, 2023. He was taken into custody without incident and was taken to the hospital with "incarcer-itis" after he claimed a hurt back.

Garley was arrested on a major drug dealing trip from Phoenix, AZ to New Mexico were New Mexico State Police pulled him over near Grants on a traffic stop. Garley had over 100,000 fentanyl pills in his possession at the time. Garley was captured a few weeks ago and a HSI investigation of phone evidence lead APD to him being one of the killers involved.

“These cowards thought they were tough. They killed an innocent child,” APD Chief Harold Medina said. “Thanks to our homicide detectives, investigative support detectives, crime scene investigators, digital intelligence team and everyone who put so much effort into solving this case. The APD team cares about victims and their families and we will do whatever it takes to bring justice.”

New Mexico State Police Chief Troy Weisler said one of his task force officers pulled over Garley on the I-40 corridor close to Grants, New Mexico. During the traffic stop Garley had a very evasive story and had makeup covering his neck tattoos.

"He had put makeup cover up his neck tattoos. The officer asked him about it and said it was some Tik Tok trend. And there's some strange Tik Tok trends, but that one seemed a little a little fishy," said Chief Weisler.

Garley is currently in custody in Grants and might face federal charges to his drug dealing

The shooting occurred shortly before 9 p.m. on Sept. 6, 2023, in the area of Avenida Cesar Chavez, just west of University Blvd., after the Villegas family members left a baseball game at Isotopes Stadium.

Homicide detectives learned the suspects were also at the game that night. Jose Romero had an ongoing feud with another man, which escalated that night when they saw each other at the game. Video surveillance shows Romero and Garley leaving the stadium shortly after a group that included the man that was feuding with Romero.

Video from the night of the murder of Froylan Villegas

That man, who was with family members, left in his white Dodge pickup, but did not immediately leave the parking lot. Video surveillance showed that man drive past the white Dodge pickup owned by the Villegas family and was still in a parking spot.

The Villegas family left the parking lot shortly after that, heading westbound on Avenida Cesar Chavez and through the University Blvd intersection just minutes before 9 p.m.

Romero and Garley were in a black Dodge Durango that drove alongside the white Dodge Ram pickup with the Villegas family inside. One of the passengers in the Durango stood outside of the sunroof and fired several rounds at the truck, thinking they were shooting at the truck being driven by the man they were targeting as part of their feud. The Dodge Durango continued westbound after the shooting and went northbound on I-25.

Froylan Villegas, who was in the front passenger seat of the truck, and Tatiana Villegas, who was driving the truck were each struck several times by gunshots. Froylan Villegas died as a result of his wounds and Tatiana Villegas, 23, was critically injured and remains in the hospital. Froylan’s mother and infant brother were in the back seat of the truck and were not injured. However, the investigation revealed that two projectiles barely missed the infant, who was sitting in a car seat behind Froylan.

Detectives received several tips after a description of the black Dodge Durango was released through Crime Stoppers the day after the shooting. Several of the tips identified the suspects and provided detectives with leads. Investigators used cell phone data and social media to track the movements of several individuals. The day after the shooting, the man who was feuding with Romero sent him a message on Instagram indicating they shot at the wrong truck.

We will update the story with the suspects booking mugs and a link to the criminal complaint when it is available.

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