Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal
DeAndre Garcia lived and breathed to play guitar.
The 20-year-old would strum away in his room for hours at a time. He practiced during his lunch break at work. He even took it when his grandmother had to get a new phone, playing for customers who kept saying: play another one.
“We were at the Cricket store for like an hour, because they wanted to hear his music,” Dolly Romero, Garcia’s grandmother, told the Journal Friday. “His guitar always went with him.”
That’s what Garcia was doing before he was shot several times through the front door of a West Side apartment Wednesday afternoon, friends and family say.
Few details have been released since the slaying, and no arrests have been made.
Gilbert Gallegos, an Albuquerque police spokesman, said officers responded to reports of gunfire around 4:30 p.m. at the Eagle Ranch apartments in the 9000 block of Eagle Ranch NW, near Paseo del Norte.
He said arriving officers were told a man was shot “numerous times” through an apartment door and the shooter was seen running through the complex.
Gallegos said police found Garcia shot in the chest and “beyond help.” Officers took several people into custody.
“Detectives have obtained a search warrant for the apartment and are conducting interviews,” Gallegos said.
“The police never called and told us. We found out through the grapevine,” Romero said.
She said friends told her Garcia was staying with a girl who was having problems with an ex-boyfriend. When the ex-boyfriend showed up on Wednesday, Garcia put down his guitar and corralled everybody into a back room.
“When he came out of the room that’s when the shots were fired,” she said. “I don’t know if that’s true. That was something that was told to us.”
Romero said the story rings true for her grandson.
“He was that kind of person, he was going to help somebody even if he got hurt,” she said.
Romero described her grandson – an Albuquerque native and oldest of three siblings – as kind, quiet and “very talented” when it came to music.
At the age of 13, Garcia – billed as a prodigy – made news during a concert when he was gifted a handcrafted Pimentel and Sons guitar. By that time, he was already composing his own music.
Since then Romero said Garcia had traveled all over to play in competitions – from Washington, D.C., and Las Vegas, Nevada, all the way to Barcelona, Spain. A Cibola High School graduate, Garcia had passed up musical scholarship opportunities to help take care of his family and recently enlisted in the Air Force.
Romero said the whole family knew Garcia was going to be somebody someday.
“When he came back from Spain, he told his mom and I, ‘When I get famous …’ ” she said, choking up. ” ‘… I’m going to take you guys to Spain, because that is the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen in my life.’ ”
Composing herself, Romero continued, “He was only 20 years old. He had his whole life ahead of him.”