ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Friends and family gathered Wednesday night to remember the life of a 15-year-old Cibola High School student hit and killed at an Albuquerque intersection.
Police believe the driver who likely hit the teen was fleeing from officers in a stolen truck and is still on the run.
Manny Tapia was walking home from the movies Tuesday night near Cottonwood Mall. While police don’t know who hit him, they released new photos Wednesday night of some people who might be involved.
“You just…destroyed our life…just in one split second,” said Dionne Harding, Manny’s mom.
On his way home from seeing a movie after his shift at a kiosk in Cottonwood Mall, police say 15-year-old Manny Tapia, who friends describe as a kind, outgoing boy, was left alone by a hit and run driver.
“He was on his way back from seeing the new Spider-Man movie that he absolutely loves,” Harding said.
“He didn’t like leaving people out. When other people were sitting alone he would invite them over,” said Cyrus Zayas, Manny’s friend.
“I don’t know what they were doing that was so detrimental that they could not stop, and now my son is dead,” Harding continued.
Police say shortly after midnight, officers spotted a GMC truck and tried to pull it over, but APD says when the driver fled, they stopped the chase, called in the truck to dispatch, and turned around.
“Our policies do state that we do not engage a stolen vehicle that’s fleeing unless it’s some sort of life and death situation because we don’t want the public at risk,” APD spokesperson Gilbert Gallegos said.
Soon after, officers heard a dispatch call about a crash at Coors and Ellison.
“They figured it might have been that same truck and turned around and headed to the scene,” Gallegos said. Wednesday night, Crime Stoppers says it needs help identifying the people who they believe have information about the crash.
The growing memorial at the intersection where the crash happened and the large number of people who showed up to the vigil, isn’t surprising to those who knew Manny.
“It’s hard to put into words how much of a friend Manny was,” said Zayas.
People say they’ll remember the 15-year-old, as an aspiring artist, who liked dressing up and had big dreams.
“He always wanted to grow up and just be something great,” Harding said.
“I just know I’ll miss him. A lot of other people will miss him,” said Zayas.
Manny’s mom says his artwork was featured at the Hispanic Cultural Center last year. He was about to start his sophomore year at Cibola.
Police say the truck is a dark blue GMC Sierra pickup with license plate 716TJC. They say the right front headlight is out.
If you have any information about the crash or the people in the photos, call Crime Stoppers at 505-843-STOP. You can also submit anonymous tips at p3tips.com.
Manny Tapia’s family has also started a GoFundMe. To donate, click here.