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Suspect in homecoming party slaying may be tied to Pokémon GO death

Izaiah Garcia (MDC)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — An innocent bystander — a 17-year-old high school student — shot in the back after gunfire erupts outside a homecoming party.

A 21-year-old woman playing Pokémon GO with her boyfriend when her car is sprayed with bullets.

Prosecutors say the same man, 19-year-old Izaiah Garcia, killed the high school student and may be responsible for the Pokémon GO slaying.

The connection emerged in court records filed Wednesday for Garcia, who is charged with an open count of murder and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in the Sept. 29 slaying of Sandia High School student Sean Markey.

Garcia has not been charged in the death of 21-year-old Cayla Campos, who was shot Oct. 18 after police say she witnessed a robbery in progress at Bianchetti Park.

“That investigation is ongoing,” a prosecutor wrote in a pretrial detention motion.

Garcia was booked into the Metropolitan Detention Center on Monday after a SWAT standoff at his home next to Bianchetti Park.

Lyla Garcia, Garcia’s mother, is at a loss for words.

“I’m just very heartbroken, I don’t know what to say,” she told the Journal Wednesday. “I know my son and I know that’s not him. Everyone’s making him out to be this horrible person and he’s not.”

Garcia said her son is a Manzano graduate who works hard for a carpet cleaning company and doesn’t mess with guns or drugs.

Prosecutors say the shooting outside the homecoming party was a “retaliatory act” that stemmed from a three-year old vendetta between Garcia and an unnamed person. Witnesses told police Garcia unloaded, and reloaded, a handgun to fire numerous times at the person but missed and struck Markey instead.

According to a recently unsealed criminal complaint filed in Metropolitan Court, around 1 a.m. officers responded to multiple reports of gunfire and vehicles speeding away outside a house party in the 3900 block of Garcia NE, near Montgomery and Eubank. Police found multiple casings in the street but no victims or witnesses.

Within minutes, officers were called to Kaseman Hospital where Markey was pronounced dead from a gunshot wound in the back. Markey’s friends told police gunfire rang out as they were leaving the party and Markey collapsed saying he had been shot.

Witnesses who were at the party told police the gathering was a “chill time” before a group of “shady” people — including murder suspect Julio “Fa Fa” Almentero — showed up with guns. Almentero was caught on video walking around with a gun and shooting it in a surveillance video from outside the home.

According to the complaint witnesses say, at some point, a man who went by “Taz” showed up with two men and started a fight in the street before opening fire — reloading at least once —with a handgun.

Police say they found out “Taz” was actually Garcia, a Manzano High School graduate who had been placed on long-term suspension in 2018 for “having a firearm.”

Officers also tracked down the man Garcia was shooting at, referred to as the “intended target” in the complaint, and he spoke with them.

The man told police he and his friends were at the party but decided “it would be best to leave” when Garcia showed up because of a previous fight three years earlier with Garcia’s friend. Police say the man hopped the fence to leave the party but was approached by Garcia in the street outside who said “you think you can get away with what you did to my homie?”

The man told police he suggested a physical fight to “end the ongoing issues” that kept coming up, which is when Garcia pulled a handgun from his hoodie. The man said they ran away as Garcia shot at them numerous times. He said he saw the “sparks from the bullets hitting the ground and rocks near their feet.”

In surveillance footage, police say, Markey can be seen “standing up, falling slightly, as if to have been struck by something” before running away.

Police say the man told them he “was in fear for his life” and knew Garcia wanted to kill him and not Markey. After identifying Garcia as a suspect, multiple witnesses picked him out of a photo lineup as the shooter.

In the pretrial detention motion prosecutors say Garcia is also being looked at in connection with the death of Campos, who was fatally shot near the home of Garcia’s girlfriend.

Witnesses told police a short, masked, man drove up in a red Pontiac and parked in front of a home on Granite, across from Bianchetti Park. Police say the suspect pulled a rifle from the center console and pointed it at some people in a nearby vehicle, “demanding they empty their pockets and give him their wallet and money.”

The suspect asked the victims “what the (expletive) are you doing in front of my house” before firing the rifle into a second car “that happened to drive by” with Campos and her boyfriend inside.

A bullet fatally struck Campos, and she crashed her car into the front of a house before being taken to the hospital where she was pronounced dead.

According to the motion, neighbors told police that the man who drove the red Pontiac lived at the home on Granite and, when questioned by detectives, Garcia said he lived at the same home.

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