Copyright © 2018 Albuquerque Journal
Deputies say the 16-year-old boy who was shot last week during a road rage incident in the South Valley has died after spending several days in the hospital.
Felicia Maggard, a spokeswoman for the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office, said Efrain Arzate Jr. was taken off life support Sunday.
Arzate’s family members requested privacy Monday. They said that while BCSO had originally reported he was 15, he had turned 16 in mid-January.
Maggard said the case is now being investigated as a homicide.
Arzate, a sophomore at Atrisco Heritage Academy High School, was riding in the back seat of a Dodge Challenger on March 20 when Maggard said he was shot and critically injured.
She said around 10 p.m. deputies were called to Gun Club and Kirk SW, west of Coors, for reports of someone who had been shot. When they arrived they found Arzate in the back seat.
He was taken to the hospital in critical condition.
“Detectives responded to the scene and determined the shooting was the result of a road rage incident,” Maggard wrote in an email.
However, BCSO has not released any details about the road rage or the circumstances that led up the shooting or where it occurred.
No arrests have been made in the case and investigators have not identified any suspects.
The period in which Arzate was fatally wounded saw an unusually high number of killings and his death raises the toll to six deaths in six days in Bernalillo County.
Between March 16 and March 21, the Albuquerque Police Department investigated five homicides within the city limits. Arzate’s death is the only one investigated by BCSO.
Over the weekend, Arzate’s friends and relatives organized a carwash and set up a GoFundMe account to raise money for his family, praying for a miracle that he would make it.
And teenagers took to social media to ask for prayers, share memories of their friend and classmate and send their condolences to his loved ones.
In a phone interview with the Journal, Arzate’s girlfriend, who is 15, said she is having a hard time accepting that he is gone and keeps expecting to hear from him.
She described Arzate, also known as “Peri,” as a jokester who loved making up nicknames for his friends and giving everyone a hard time. She said he was very close to his brother, who was his elder by two years, and his cousin.
Arzate was the second juvenile who died tragically in the past week.
Two days after he was shot, on the other side of the city a 12-year-old girl was struck by an SUV while crossing the street in front of her middle school.
Eliza “Justine” Almuina died at the hospital several hours after she was hit. No one has been charged in her death.