11-Year-Old Boy in New Mexico Killed Due to 'Mistaken Identity,' Police Say

Froylan Villegas was killed after an Albuquerque Isotopes game on Sept. 6

<p>Gofundme</p> Froylan Villegas


Froylan Villegas

An 11-year-old boy in New Mexico was killed due to a case of mistaken identity, police say.

On Thursday, authorities shed new light on the death of 11-year-old Froylan Villegas, who was killed after an Albuquerque Isotopes game on Sept. 6. Authorities previously reported that Villegas was riding in a truck that someone had "fired several shots at" after the sporting event. The tragedy also left Villegas's cousin Tatiana critically injured, reports KOB.

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Harold Medina, Chief of the Albuquerque Police Department, shared a photo of Villegas on X, formally known as Twitter, and announced, "With help from the public, investigators determined this was a case of mistaken identity." During a press conference the same day, Medina revealed that Jose Romero and Nathen Garley had been arrested in connection to the case.

"The individuals who were arrested were involved in a dispute with others at Isotopes stadium," he said.

<p>Albuquerque Police Department/ Facebook</p> Jose Romero, 22, and Nathen Garley, 23, were booked overnight into the Metro Detention Center for the murder of 11-year-old Froylan Villegas.

Albuquerque Police Department/ Facebook

Jose Romero, 22, and Nathen Garley, 23, were booked overnight into the Metro Detention Center for the murder of 11-year-old Froylan Villegas.

"It is our belief that these cowards mixed up the two vehicles and shot into the wrong vehicle taking the life of a young man," he added.

According to Medina, Garley had already been in custody when arrested in connection to Villegas' case. New Mexico State Police Chief W. Troy Weisler explained that during a traffic stop on Sept. 13 in which Garley had been returning to Arizona, authorities found "approximately 100,000 fentanyl tablets" in his vehicle.

"Very likely would've killed somebody else if he would have been allowed to do so," he added. NBC News reports that at the time of Romero's arrest, he was already wanted for "failing to appear in court in connection with alleged drug dealing."

The incident caused New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham to sign an executive order on Sept. 7 declaring gun violence a public health emergency. On Sept. 8, she followed the declaration by announcing that she had "issued a 30-day ban on the open & concealed carrying of guns in Albuquerque and Bernalillo County."

The public health order was updated on Sept. 15. In a press statement, Grishan announced that she would be "removing the previous provision around firearms and replacing it with a provision that temporarily suspends the carrying of firearms at parks and playgrounds in Albuquerque and Bernalillo County."

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On Friday afternoon, Medina announced on X that a third suspect connected to the case had been arrested. While the third suspect's identity was not released, Medina urged people to call 505-242-COPS or Crime Stoppers at 505-843-STOP with any additional details they may know about the case.

"Let's make sure they stay in jail and are held accountable for this tragedy," he added. PEOPLE has reached out to the APD for comment.

Tatiana's mother, Beverly Villegas, has created a GoFundMe campaign for her daughter, who she explained in the campaign's description is "going to have extensive therapy" as a result of the incident.

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"We as her family are asking on her behalf for any help that you can spare to help cover any living expenses that are incurred while she is recovering," the campaign's description adds. "Funds collected will also be used for our family while we are out of work to help Tatiana with her recuperation and grief of our beloved Froylan." As of this writing, the campaign has collected 415 donations and surpassed its $30,000 goal.

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