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Two men are accused of shooting and killing a man before kidnapping his teenage sister late last month on the mesa west of Albuquerque.
Edgar Orona, 29, and Erick Garcia, 22, are each charged with an open count of murder, kidnapping, child abuse, armed robbery and conspiracy in the Sept. 25 death of 21-year-old Esteban Mercado-Rangel.
After shooting Mercado-Rangel, according to court records, the men forced his 16-year-old sister into a car at gunpoint, but she was able to escape soon after.
Garcia was booked into the Metropolitan Detention Center on Oct. 10 on separate charges. A warrant has been issued for Orona’s arrest.
In addition to the homicide, Garcia is charged in a Sept. 10 robbery in which he drove a car into the wall of a business adjacent to a gun store, hammered a hole into the gun store and stole seven firearms.
According to a criminal complaint filed in Metropolitan Court:
Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded around 8:15 p.m. to the shooting and found Mercado-Rangel’s body on the mesa 15 miles west of Albuquerque. He had been shot at least once.
Mercado-Rangel’s sister told deputies they were shooting in the area when two men befriended her brother, smoked marijuana and tried to sell him a gun. She said the men helped them start Mercado-Rangel’s SUV before one of them shot him three times.
Deputies found Mercado-Rangel’s stolen SUV near Coors and Bridge SW, and the inside had been torched. They pulled data from Mercado-Rangel’s phone and found that he received a call from Orona’s number before the homicide.
They found Orona’s phone had been in the area at the time of the shooting, and found messages between him and Garcia referencing the homicide and other crimes, including a gun store robbery. In the 48 hours leading up to the homicide, the men discussed robbing someone at gunpoint and stealing a car.
The messages, translated from Spanish, included “I will accompany you to the robbery” and “Today we will do the robbery.” In messages days after the homicide, Garcia told Orona to leave the backpack and pistol at his house “so they don’t get the evidence.”
Mercado-Rangel’s sister picked Garcia and Orona out of a lineup and said Orona was the shooter.
Garcia told deputies he didn’t know the plan was to rob Mercado-Rangel.
He said the three smoked methamphetamine in the mesa, tried to sell Mercado-Rangel a rifle and exchanged phone numbers. Garcia told deputies they helped Mercado-Rangel jump his SUV before Orona suddenly pulled out a gun and shot him.
He said Orona then grabbed the sister, who was crying beside her brother, and forced her into the SUV. Garcia told deputies the two men met up in Albuquerque and Orona said the girl escaped.
He said they split up meth they took from Mercado-Rangel’s SUV and Orona, who was “extremely paranoid,” took the murder weapon with him and disappeared. Detectives found paperwork from Mercado-Rangel’s SUV in the trash at Garcia’s home.