ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Bernalillo County Sheriff’s deputies said the 18-year-old girl killed in Thursday night’s drive-by shooting in Albuquerque was an innocent bystander.
Aliyah Garcia’s family told KRQE News 13 she was supposed to graduate from high school on Friday. The teen’s family is devastated.
Family members said the 18-year-old was at the wrong place at the wrong time when gunfire started streaming her way Thursday night.
“Really beautiful girl, beautiful person inside and out,” explained Raymond Ballejos, Garcia’s uncle. “An innocent life was taken for no apparent reason.”
“I don’t believe it’s real,” Darlene Garcia, the teen’s aunt, told News 13. “I’m waiting for a phone call from her to tell me to pick her up. I can’t believe she’s gone.”
Garcia was with friends near Atrisco and Mares in the South Valley Thursday night around 10:30 p.m.
Witnesses said Garcia was sitting in a car when bullets started flying. Garcia was hit.
“At this time detectives do not believe that she was the intended target of this drive-by shooting,” said Bernalillo County Sheriff’s deputy, Felicia Romero.
The 18-year-old was rushed to the hospital where she later died.
Witnesses said they saw a car down the road turn its headlights off, then heard at least 16 shots fired.
Garcia was on the phone with her mom at the time.
“I can’t even imagine hearing that from your daughter that ‘they’re shooting at me,’ and that’s the last phone call that you here from your daughter,” Marissa Gonzales told News 13. Gonzales’ mom lives in the house where the shooting happened.
The shooter, or shooters got away.
The teen’s family is now pleading for someone to come forward.
“Took an innocent life, I mean can you live with that guilt?” Garcia’s uncle asked.
Gonzales worries the intended target may have been Gonzales’ own brother, but no one knows for sure.
“If they’re really after whatever my brother or – they’ll really do it again,” said Gonzales. “They didn’t really care who they were gonna shoot or kill.”
“My heart really goes out to their family,” Gonzales added.
Garcia’s family had big plans Friday, to get together and celebrate her high school graduation from Robert F. Kennedy Charter School.
“We were looking forward to graduation, and then college, and then kids and a whole life with her, and it got shattered in one instant,” said Darlene Garcia.
The teenager’s family is now struggling for answers.
“My niece did not deserve to die,” said Darlene. “Innocent 18-year-old, beautiful young girl, had a whole life ahead of her, and it was taken over nothing.”
Garcia left behind a big family, including two older sisters and a younger brother.
Bernalillo County Sheriff’s deputies said they’re still conducting interviews. Detectives are asking anyone with information to give them a call at 505-468-7100, or 505-967-5615.