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Suspect charged and arrested for December road rage murder near Montano Bridge

Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023

ALBUQUERQUE – The U.S. Marshals Service arrested Tristan Salais and charged him for the Dec. 3, 2022, murder of Jessie Lovato during an apparent road rage incident near the Montaño Bridge.


Salais, 24, is accused of fatally shooting Lovato, 50, as both men drove eastbound on Montaño Rd., N.W. just east of the bridge over the Rio Grande. Through investigation, homicide detectives concluded that Salais drove his gold VW Jetta alongside Lovato’s White Ford Pickup at 5:09 a.m. and fired several shots at Lovato. After being shot, Lovato crashed his truck into a wall on the south side of Montaño.


A BCSO lieutenant first observed the crash around 5:17 a.m. as he drove westbound on Montaño. The lieutenant called in the crash to BCSO dispatch and made a U-turn to get to the scene. When he arrived, the lieutenant saw a second vehicle and a man, later identified as Salais, at the scene. Salais told the lieutenant and other deputies who arrived that he witnessed the crash. He claimed the driver of the truck was engaged in a road rage incident with the driver of a gray Prius that left the scene.


As deputies investigated the crash, Salais fled the scene in his vehicle at a high rate of speed. Deputies eventually discovered that Lovato had suffered gunshot wounds. At that point, APD’s Homicide Unit was called out to investigate.


Homicide detectives were able to use video surveillance to piece together a timeline of the vehicles that traveled along Montaño at the time of the shooting. They determined Salais’ vehicle was the only other vehicle at the scene of the shooting when Lovato’s truck crashed. They also determined that Salais falsified his account about being a witness to the crash, and that another vehicle was responsible.


Salais is charged with an open count of murder and tampering with evidence.