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2 arrested in drive-by attack at Albuquerque baseball stadium that killed 11-year-old boy

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) —Two people were arrested Thursday in connection with a shooting outside an Albuquerque baseball stadium that killed an 11-year-old boy and prompted the New Mexico governor to issue a controversial gun ban.

Jose Romero, 22, and Nathen Garley, 21, were held for the Sept. 6 shooting after an Albuquerque Isotopes game in what appeared to be a case of mistaken identity, Police Chief Harold Medina said at a news conference.

“These cowards thought they were tough,” Medina said in an earlier social media post. “They killed an innocent child.”

Romero was taken into custody on Thursday evening. At the time, he already was wanted for failing to appear in court in connection with alleged drug dealing, Medina said.

Garley was already in custody when he was arrested in connection with the killing. He had been stopped by state police on Sept. 13 while returning from Arizona and authorities found a gun and about 100,000 fentanyl tablets in the car, State Police Chief W. Troy Weisler said at the news conference.

Further investigation linked him to the shooting, authorities alleged.

It wasn't immediately clear whether either man had a lawyer who could speak on his behalf.

Police alleged that the men, both reputed gang members, pulled up in a car and attacked a pickup truck that was leaving the minor league game at Isotopes Stadium.

More than a dozen shots were fired, killing Froylan Villegas and leaving his cousin, Tatiana Villegas, paralyzed from the waist down, authorities said.

The boy’s mother and his infant brother were also inside the truck but weren’t injured although two bullets barely missed the other child, police spokesman Gilbert Gallegos said.

Police initially suspected the shooting may have been road rage but the police chief said it was an act of “mistaken identity.”

Romero and Garley had had an ongoing feud with another man and argued with him during the baseball game. The man drove a white Dodge pickup truck, Gallegos said.

The victims were in a very similar white Dodge truck that pulled out of the stadium parking lot and drove by the truck of the intended target, police said.

“It is our belief that these cowards mixed up the two vehicles and shot into the wrong vehicle,” the police chief said.

“Investigators used cellphone data and social media to track the movements of several individuals,” Gallegos said. “The day after the shooting, the man who was feuding with Romero sent him a message on Instagram indicating they shot at the wrong truck.”

The shooting, one of several involving children, prompted New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, to issue an emergency public health order days later suspending the right to carry firearms in public in and around Albuquerque. The measure was fought by Republican lawmakers and gun rights groups and a federal judge last week granted a temporary restraining order to block the order pending another court hearing next month.

U.S. District Judge David Urias said that the governor’s original order was likely to cause irreparable harm to people deprived of the right to carry a gun in public for self-defense.

Grisham then amended the order to apply only to public parks and playgrounds where children and their families gather.