TUCUMCARI, N.M. (KRQE) – What was supposed to be one of the happiest days of his life quickly turned into tragedy for a New Mexico man.

46-year-old Michael Arellano was celebrating his son’s high school graduation over the weekend when tensions grew between him and another guest.

Maria Barrios is Arellano’s sister-in-law. She explains, “We’re in shock. My mother-in-law spoke with him every day. She had spoken with him that day, he was so proud of his son, you know, just graduating and going to celebrate with him.”

46-Year old Michael Arellano was at his son’s high school graduation party in Tucumcari Saturday night when the celebration turned into a confrontation between him and another man at the party.

Story continues below

Police say Arellano and Tyje Garrett were drinking and started arguing. Both men have a child with the same woman, including the graduate, and Garrett was currently dating the woman.

According to the criminal complaint, guests had to separate the men several times during the party. “These poor children, family members have to witness this. It’s just so tragic,” Barrios said. 

Police say the graduate tried talking to his father, telling him to “stop his behavior”, so Arellano left the party to be alone. They say Garrett left soon after in his truck. A witness says he saw Garrett drive past Arellano, turn around and park his truck right in front of him. All of a sudden about six gunshots were heard and Arellano fell to the ground.

Barrios shares, “They were in shock, devastated, you know, cannot believe it happened? You know, especially given the circumstances, you know, it was a family party. Everybody was invited.”

Garrett was later taken into custody in Logan and was booked into the Quay County Detention Center on a first degree murder charge. 

Maria Barrios hopes her brother-in-law is never forgotten. “He was very loyal to his friends and to his family. He loved everyone. He called everyone all the time. Just an overall great person that, you know, we’re gonna miss.”

Prosecutors have filed a motion to hold Garrett behind bars until trial. Online records show he was just arrested in March on a domestic violence charge.

There is a GoFundMe page to help the Arellano family with burial costs.