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Murder Suspect Detained Twice then Released by Police, Finally Caught by U.S. Marshals

By: ABQ RAW staff

POSTED: 1/17/2023 @ 4:15PM

Albuquerque - Details have been released in a bizarre drive by murder of a man who was driving to work one morning and ended up being killed in a hail of gunfire from another driver. On December 3rd, 2022, Around 5:00AM that morning Bernalillo County Sheriff's deputies were dispatched to a crash involving a single vehicle into a wall on Montano Rd under Rio Grande Blvd NW. When deputies investigated further they found the driver had been shot dead.

BCSO turned over the investigation to the Albuquerque Police Department who made this a full violent crimes call out. Visible on Montano off the roadway was a lifted Ford truck with at least two bullet holes through the driver side door of the truck. After the driver was shot it appears he crashed into a brick wall along the south side of Montano Rd.

New details were revealed in a criminal complaint filed in District Court outlines what happened on December 3rd, 2022. The complaint identifies the suspect as 24-year-old Tristan Salias of Albuquerque.

The complaint states, Salias was on scene of the crash when a Bernalillo County Sheriff lieutenant arrived on scene after noticing the truck crashed into the wall. The lieutenant said he saw a gold Jetta was near the truck. When he arrived on scene, the Lieutenant saw Salias walking away from the truck and told the BCSO Lt. that the victim was dead. The victim was identified as Jesse Lovato, 50-year-old, from Albuquerque. He died from a single gunshot wound to the neck.

Salias pretended to be a witness and told deputies that there was a road rage incident involving a Toyota Prius and Lovato's truck. The BCSO deputies thought Salias was a witness and escorted him back to his vehicle to hang out for APD homicide detectives to interview him.

Salias was then seen fleeing at a high rate of speed away from the crime scene. Soon after Salias's adult parents were summoned to the crash site and they arrived on scene. The mom of Salias claimed the police were just trying to set her son up with fake charges and the father said they had not seen him.

Later that day the complaint goes on to say the father called 911 to let them know Salias was at their house. APD officers were sent there and took custody of Salias. Once detained, Salias was taken to a substation for questioning and evidence gathering. After their interview with Salias APD released him. It is unclear why APD let Salias go after the interview. We reached out to APD's PIO team but were ignored.

We reached out to Bernalillo County Sheriff's Office to see if Salias would be charged with aggravated fleeing from law enforcement with their intial encounter with him.

"The deputies completed outside agency reports for the incident as APD was taking over the investigation. I’m not aware of any further investigation or any charges being brought against Salais as result of the deputy’s interaction or his fleeing from the scene. As all reports completed in the matter were forwarded to APD as part of their investigation, any further charges reference Aggravated fleeing would be more appropriately filed by the agency conducting the investigation," said Jayme Fuller, Public Information Coordinator for BCSO.


A month later on January 16th, 2023, U.S. Marshals were tasked with apprehending Salias and were able to take him into custody without incident.

“We are continuing to hunt down dangerous people who have total disregard for the law. “Our work does not stop — not on weekends and not on federal holidays,” said Sonya K. Chavez, U.S. Marshal for the District of New Mexico.

Salias had a felony warrant from a gun charge reference an unrelated case and his current murder charge. No weapon was found during the investigation of the murder of Jessie Lovato. He was charged with an open count of murder and tampering with evidence.

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