ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — In a shooting Albuquerque’s police chief called “a terrible, tragic loss,” a 4-year-old girl was shot in the head and killed in an apparent road rage incident on Interstate 40 on Tuesday afternoon.
The child, who had been in a vehicle with her parents, was rushed to the hospital where she died, Police Chief Gorden Eden said during a Tuesday evening press conference.
He said the shooter was still on the loose, and I-40 westbound was closed for hours as police searched for evidence.
Officer Simon Drobik said no one else was injured in the shooting.
Police haven’t released the child’s identity.
Drobik said the victim’s father told officers that the shooting, which occurred around 3 p.m. between the Coors and 98th Street exits, was the result of road rage.
“The cars were both moving westbound when one car pulled up against the other and started firing,” Drobik said.
He said a Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office deputy drove up shortly after the shooting to help.
“A BCSO deputy pulled up to a car he thought looked disabled. When he made contact with the car, he learned there was a 4-year-old inside that was hurt,” Drobik said.
The suspect is still at large, and Eden said police have little to go on. He said investigators don’t have a clear description of the suspect.
“We are in desperate need of info to help us resolve the conflicting information we’re getting right now. We’re begging for the community’s help,” Eden said.
He asked for anyone who saw two vehicles cutting each other off near the Coors exit to contact APD – 242-2677.
Officers have been pulling over suspicious vehicles but haven’t made any arrests, Drobik said.
“We are following every lead we have,” he said.
Eden said the shooting was senseless.
“This is one of those crimes that is unexplainable. It’s 100 percent preventable; it did not have to happen,” he said. “It’s a complete disrespect for human life. We need to rise up as a community and say enough is enough.”
The closure of westbound I-40 at Coors snarled rush hour traffic for hours.
A red truck was seen pulled over on the interstate and appeared to have a bullet hole in the rear window, but police would not confirm it was involved.
“We have a huge crime scene here, we could possibly have casings all the way back from Coors to 98th, that’s why we shut the freeway down,” Drobik said.
Omar Mendez and his father live in the neighborhood directly north of the crime scene. He said they were driving and heard the news on the radio.
“It’s so close to where we live it was scary,” Mendez said. “You never know when someone could come next to you and shoot from nowhere. It’s really sad to hear about that little kid.”
Drobik said officers plan to work throughout the night on the investigation.
“Any time a child is hurt it’s a horrible, horrible thing,” Drobik said. “These officers aren’t going to leave until they figure out what happened.”