Family seeks public’s help locating vehicle that hit and killed 15-year-old

Albuquerque News

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Family and friends of a 15-year-old boy who was killed in a hit-and-run near Cottonwood Mall are afraid the driver is going to get away the crime. They’re rallying with a plea for the public: help police find the pickup truck that hit him, so the case doesn’t fall apart.

For Dionne Harding, it’s a last-ditch effort. She, along with friends and family, handed out flyers at Coors and Ellison to drivers that passed by. It’s the intersection where her son Manny Tapia was hit and killed in July.

They’re asking for the public’s help in locating the stolen truck connected to her son’s hit-and-run death.”A lot of drive to get this, to the end…because my son, really, really did not deserve to die,” said Dionne Harding.

Police believe Tapia was hit by a stolen truck they had just tried to pull over minutes earlier before the driver took off and lost the officer. Juan Ramirez has been named as a person of interest in Tapia’s death. Police say he stole the dark blue GMC Sierra pick-up that hit Tapia a couple of nights earlier.

Finding the truck could help prove Ramirez was behind the wheel when the Cibola High School student was run over. However, prosecutors say no one knows where that truck is. “Hopefully someone headed home to Bernalillo or Rio Rancho actually has seen this truck, possibly somewhere, or it’s in a neighborhood,” said Harding.

Without the truck, it makes this case much harder. “My son died for no reason, a good boy,” said Jose Tapia.

A spokesperson for the District Attorney’s Office said investigators are in the process of going through Ramirez’s phone, to see if they can pinpoint exactly where he was at the time Tapia was killed. Ramirez is being held in jail on the stolen vehicle charges.

Police say the vehicle Ramirez is believed to have been driving was a dark blue, GMC Sierra truck with the license plate 716TJC. The right front headlight was out on the truck.

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